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Warriors of God: The Wars of England & France, 1135-1453» Forums » General

Subject: A balanced view of this game? rss

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Severus Snape
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The positive comments on this game (from what I have read) come across as over the top to the degree that I sometimes find myself reaching for the anti-nausea medicine. The negative comments seem to reflect grouchy people who are upset that anyone would dare to like this game. It is like Geeks have gone manic over this game.

Who can present a balanced view of the strengths and weaknesses of this game? If you cannot find any of either than it is not a case of not looking hard enough, but a case of not looking at all.

goo

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Wendell
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I'll take a stab.

Strengths: Reasonably simple game-play, but plenty of tough decisions to make - and always must remember you win by controlling areas, not winning battles. Simple movement and initiative system, but again subtleties about movement, turn length, and your opponent's actions mean you cannot make and implement a Perfect Plan. Well-balanced (either side can win either scenario), and good sense of tension - I've only played one game that was a blow-out. Interesting period, subject matter. Nice components.

Weaknesses: Lots of randomness.* Could adjust combat system to add "realism", though that would come at the expense of making the game longer and would probably not be appropriate given the scale of the game and the length of the turns (10 years). Some complain that Warriors is too long; I've been able to play from setup AND explaining to a new player, to conclusion in 4 hours or less. Whether 3-4 hours is too long is of course a matter of taste. I do like this game - so I'm not thinking of a great number of weaknesses!

*how much of that is a weakness depends on your comfort with chaos, chance, etc. To me, it isn't to a degree that is a weakness, and you have to plan for bad luck in this game.
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Regarding playing time: what Wendell says is only true if both players move reasonably quickly. This game has many short movement impulses. If one person takes just 2 extra minutes looking at the board during each of their moves, playing time will increase by an hour. So games can go very quickly or drag on much longer than they should.

Also, it's worth mentioning that the turn structure for Warriors of God is somewhat mechanical. Movement and combat are fairly quick/easy... but after that is finished there is a somewhat finicky set of steps to prepare for next turn. I can understand people not loving that.

Finally, the rulebook seems to be a "love it or hate it" affair Edit: for some people (mostly those going in with expectations of a traditional wargame, which this is not). I think it works and is easy to read, but could have been improved in several key areas.



Edit: Should point out that these are the worst criticsms I can think to add to what Wendell listed above. His comment covers the bases quite well.
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Fredrik Borg
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newuser wrote:
Finally, the rulebook seems to be a "love it or hate it" affair. I think it works and is easy to read, but could have been improved in several key areas.

Interesting, you think it is a "love it or hate it" affair but you yourself is somewhere in between.

Fredrik.
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Wendell
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newuser wrote:
Regarding playing time: what Wendell says is only true if both players move reasonably quickly. This game has many short movement impulses. If one person takes just 2 extra minutes looking at the board during each of their moves, playing time will increase by an hour. So games can go very quickly or drag on much longer than they should.

True. But hardly the fault of the game. I have a friend who can make Small World go six hours.
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Eric Brosius
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wifwendell wrote:
Weaknesses: Lots of randomness.*

Good summary, Wendell. However, many games that appear to have lots of randomness actually have enormous room for skill. I'm not experienced enough to know for sure about this game, but it's a longish game and it's hard for a streak of bad luck to last through more than a certain number of die rolls.
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Wendell
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Eric Brosius wrote:
wifwendell wrote:
Weaknesses: Lots of randomness.*

Good summary, Wendell. However, many games that appear to have lots of randomness actually have enormous room for skill.

Agreed Eric - I should've been explicit about that because I don't think winning Warriors is random.
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Niko Ruf
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I haven't played very often, but my impression of WoG is that it is a "chaos management game". The randomness factor is pretty high with combat and especially leader deaths, but a good player must learn to adopt to these circumstances. I think this is a central aspect of the game, so calling it a "disadvantage" may be misleading. You can probably only appreciate the game if you consider this to be a desirable feature.
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Brian Workman
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I think it is a good game though somewhat chaotic, but disagree that it is driven by luck. Chaos and luck are not the same and a skilled player will win over an unskilled through proper planning and chaos management.

I would suggest you find someone at your local game club who has it an just play a game. The rules are simple enough that they can be taught "at the table" as I have done on several occasions and then make up your own mind.
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Jon Gautier

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I wrote the rules, so take my comments with that in mind.

That said, I just played a couple of games with a friend last week and we had a good time. It's not the greatest game in the world (what is?), but it has some interesting mechanics that I have not encountered in other games. For me, the mechanics create fun and require the players to do a bit of thinking as well.

For example, every leader has a 1/6 chance of dying the first turn he is placed on the map. Each turn he survives, his chance of dying increases by 1/6. Both players receive a minimum of 3 new leaders each turn. When you place your new leaders, and also when you deploy your reinforcements, you need to take into account which of your leaders are likely to die, so that the new leaders can absorb the troops that the dead leaders leave behind. There is a double whammy that your canny opponent can recruit troops left behind by your dead leaders. So not only might you lose a big army, you could also lose it to your opponent.

Some people hate (hate!) this whole set of mechanics. It can absolutely screw the best laid plans on a 1/6 chance. I happen to think it is fun. I also think good game play prevails in this game, so it just isn't a four-hour luck fest. Obviously others disagree, I suppose that is the sort of thing you would just have to see for yourself.

The game play itself is a bit chess-like. Opponents trade moves--not until all the pieces have moved, but until all the impulses have been used up. A player can have as few as 1 and as many as 8 moves in a turn (that is another mechanic that can screw your plans. You might have a lot of maneuver elements, and lots of plans for them, only to find out that you will be getting only 3 moves this turn).

The choices you have actually maneuvering your troops is generally restricted by the fact that there is a high ratio of space to troops. So you are eyeing that juicy area that your opponent has left lightly or un- guarded, but if you send troops there, you wind up leaving something of yours unguarded. You can pass an impulse and not move anyone, and players often do this--sort of playing "chicken" to see who commits first.

Combat is a dice fest and you don't want to fight unless you have close to overwhelming odds. Also, the consequences for losing a battle can be severe. I think part of the game's learning curve for some players is figuring out that combat is usually a last resort.

So there are some examples. I can certainly see why someone would not like this game. Each turn, there is a chance that the whole board is upended, with leaders and huge armies disappearing and players' plans out the window. Over the course of the game, it is almost certain that each player will experience this more than once. If you like making a plan and executing it, this game may not be for you. If you like to improvise and roll with the flow, it could be a winner.

A couple of other things. The game has some very nice artwork and, although it is definitely more of a "history-lite" type of wargame, it has nice period feel. I littered the rules with Monty Python and the Holy Grail jokes. I know some people hate this, and one guy told me it ruined the game for him. So sue me.

I do flatly disagree with those who think WofG is all luck. I think there are better tactics and strategies in this game and that the better ones should beat suboptimal ones.

I hope that adds more light than heat.

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Jesse Dean
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I agree with the others that the luck, while important, is also less important than player decisions. However, I can't help but think that the game could have been streamlined a little bit longer, and the game time shaved down a bit. Most of the interesting decisions come in the movement phase, yet it only takes up a small fraction of the overall game time, with most of the rest of the game being less interesting maintenance activities. With just a little bit more development it could have been moved from a decent to good game to a good to very good game. Too bad.
 
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Jon Gautier

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doubtofbuddha wrote:
I agree with the others that the luck, while important, is also less important than player decisions. However, I can't help but think that the game could have been streamlined a little bit longer, and the game time shaved down a bit. Most of the interesting decisions come in the movement phase, yet it only takes up a small fraction of the overall game time, with most of the rest of the game being less interesting maintenance activities. With just a little bit more development it could have been moved from a decent to good game to a good to very good game. Too bad.

I disagree somewhat. There are often hard choices to be made in choosing the nonaligned leaders; placing leaders; and deploying troops. All those decisions occur in phases other than the movement phase. But I agree that there is a lot of housekeeping. It would be hell to play this game with a slow player.

Did you have any ideas on how WofG might be streamlined?
 
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Jesse Dean
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Yes, I agree all of those decisions are interesting and are important, they are just more time consuming and less interesting and important the central feature of the game.

I am not sure how to streamline it honestly, I have not done a ton of design or development and it really only occured to me as I was playing it yesterday (after taking a rather long break from the game).

I will have to think about it some more and see what I can come up with.
 
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Paul Borchers
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Does anyone know, given the different theme and time scale, if the upcoming Warriors of Japan is more "streamlined" in some of these respects? It is the predecessor to Warriors of God.

BTW, I like this game as-is, but I haven't played it much yet. My eight-year-old who's tried this a couple of times with me likes to build up her armies and take territory slowly - she's not much on attacking.
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Severus Snape
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Thank you for the comments from the community. They offer insights and ideas into the game.

I think most wargamers are resonable concerning the luck factor, reasonable in the since that we accept it as a reality in any game. It sounds like the chaos aspect is a try at "managed luck," for lack of a better term. At least the chaos factor reflects the reality of human mortality. The Sumption book, in the first one hundred fifty pages, shows mortality playing its part, with the French King, Charles IV, being the most important person to die in the early stages of the crisis.

With this in mind, why do some of you have a hard time, or harder time than some, at accepting this as a game design component?

I would imagine that this idea has been offered in another thread, but has anyone played the game using the historical life spans of the leaders? Certainly, the history of their lives is accessible enough. Someone like Edward III would then last for four turns, allowing for "better planning." If anyone has tried this, let me know.

The other lightning rod that symbolizes the yeas from the nays is the combat system. I always view a "dice fest" as a throw back to RISK; worse, I see it as a lack of imagination in a game that overflows with imaginative ideas.

The use of even just one die means you are rolling for luck. How much is luck increased with the multiplication of the dice?

goo
 
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Jon Gautier

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bentlarsen wrote:
The use of even just one die means you are rolling for luck. How much is luck increased with the multiplication of the dice?

Perhaps not at all. But I'll let the probability guys handle the detail on this one (the wargaming argument between tables and "buckets of dice" rages on as ever). My general sense of it is that buckets of dice can be a perfectly acceptable tool in the game designer's arsenal for handling odds, and in certain cases--I have been led to believe--buckets of dice are a very good way to allow for highly unlikely "one off" types of outcomes.

But my understanding of all this is second hand at best. Any math guys out there want to weigh in?
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Brian Workman
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>But my understanding of all this is second hand at best.

Oh, I think you've stated it quite well. Through number of dice, die roll mods, number of sides on the dice (d6, d8...), etc, a game designer has a lot of control over the shape of the probability distribution curve. Properly applied, I have no trouble at all with the so called "bucket-o-dice"
 
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Was George Orwell an Optimist?
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bentlarsen wrote:
With this in mind, why do some of you have a hard time, or harder time than some, at accepting this as a game design component?

You're asking why people differ?

I think some games tend to polarize more than others, and all I've read makes me believe this one is highly polarizing. A guy whose opinion I respect highly did not like this game, which led me away from it initially. But I've recently acquired a copy via trade, and look forward to trying it out and reaching my own conclusions.
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    When I spoke to Starkweather a year or so back about the game I tossed out that to me the game was more about control than war and he jumped on the statement. "Exactly!" was the next word out of his mouth and he proceeded to speak on the game from that point of view. I think people come into the game with expectations of war and for the most part that doesn't play out.

    The chaos in the game (and I don't just mean "luck" when I say chaos -- I'm talking about an environment where your ability to control what happens is limited due to the combinations of many well-understood influences as well) does not appeal to a lot of gamers, especially here at BGG. I used to rebut people that complained about it, but I've come to realize that it's not a productive use of my time. If you don't like games with lots of chatter in their play this isn't the title for you. It's a game with a lot of limitations on your ability to control the result, and some find that very frustrating. In the long haul good play slowly wins the game, but it's achieved by 55% success/45% failure.

    It's my kind of game and I rate it highly, but fundamentally it's about risk management and control. There's not a lot of games out there with its form factor so some of us really rave on it hitting our sweet spot. But if you come in expecting tactical maneuvering or opportunities for the big game-changing play you will be very surprised, and likely not in a positive way.

    They picked the right war for the rules port. HYW was truly about control, and it never was fully established by either side.

    As for shortcomings, I wish it was a shade bit shorter (though I'm faking that in solo games by starting on turn four with a startup from a previous game) and in my opinion the initiative roll can be game-changing if it goes the same way three or four turns in a row. That's the one place where I think the "luck" needs to be mitigated a bit. Easily done with a house rule. There also seems to be a solid strategy for the French that gives them an edge. That's fine for handicapping a player, but sometimes you just want straight-up even competition.

    Strengths -- everything I mentioned above. You win by keeping on grinding. Get your regions, keep your regions, score a point or two more than your opponent each turn. It's hard gaming where perseverance pays off. Be prepared to deal with arrows coming at you from all directions. Expect the unexpected, but don't depend on it.

             S.

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Severus Snape
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Pascal said, "The eternal silence of these infinite spaces terrifies me."
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Quote:
You're asking why people differ?

Indeed. If I had the time, I would do some cutting and pasting of the comments from those who love it and those who do not. It all goes down to subjective preference, but I am surprised at some of the names of those who do not. As for those who love it, not much surprises me these days.

But it is this difference of opinion over chaos and the bucket of dice combat system that is the head spinner because it is not as if these elements are new in wargames or other kinds of games.

Does anyone love the game because of his or her understanding of the history of the One Hundred Years War? Does anyone hate the game for that same reason?

People are fickle and thank goodness for it.

goo
 
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The only thing that would amaze me would be if everyone agreed.
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Jon Gautier

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bentlarsen wrote:
Does anyone love the game because of his or her understanding of the history of the One Hundred Years War? Does anyone hate the game for that same reason?

As I mentioned, this is really a history lite wargame. It gives a lovely period feel, but disliking WofG because of its history is akin to disliking Case Blue because you can't play it in an afternoon. (Although that Vasey fellow did a lovely historical article for Ops magazine on all the leaders.)
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Richard Young
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Sagrilarus wrote:
As for shortcomings, I wish it was a shade bit shorter (though I'm faking that in solo games by starting on turn four with a startup from a previous game) and in my opinion the initiative roll can be game-changing if it goes the same way three or four turns in a row. That's the one place where I think the "luck" needs to be mitigated a bit. Easily done with a house rule. There also seems to be a solid strategy for the French that gives them an edge. That's fine for handicapping a player, but sometimes you just want straight-up even competition.

That sums it up for me in a nutshell, along with the nice historical "feel" if nothing else (certainly nowhere near a simulation). You have to be ready to live with the "chaos." More traditional war games have much less of it despite the generous application of "ivory randomizers." But here a die roll (or several) precedes or follows just about every important thing you do.

Especially noting the initiative die roll which has a huge effect on how things will go for you, I am in total agreement that the level of "chaos" would be far easier to accept in a game considerably shorter. Depending how things go for you consecutively (say two or three horrible turns in a row), you are not going to recover from really bad tactical skill at die rolling. The argument that the game has to be longer to allow the bathtub to turn in your direction doesn't hold water (if that isn't too soggy a metaphor).

I'd be interested in hearing about the initiative mitigation you are suggesting? Some variation on the "march modifier" from A House Divided perhaps?
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Severus Snape
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Sphere wrote:
The only thing that would amaze me would be if everyone agreed.

I look not for amazement. I do not expect agreement. What I hope to find is understanding and insight. The historical period and the game concept deserve them.

goo
 
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Severus Snape
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Quote:
The chaos in the game (and I don't just mean "luck" when I say chaos -- I'm talking about an environment where your ability to control what happens is limited due to the combinations of many well-understood influences as well) does not appeal to a lot of gamers, especially here at BGG. I used to rebut people that complained about it, but I've come to realize that it's not a productive use of my time. If you don't like games with lots of chatter in their play this isn't the title for you. It's a game with a lot of limitations on your ability to control the result, and some find that very frustrating. In the long haul good play slowly wins the game, but it's achieved by 55% success/45% failure.

Reality is filled with chaos; history tries to make sense of it all, but it is somewhat akin to knocking those square pegs into round holes.

If there are severe limitations to one's ability to achieve success, what does that make the gamer? Just a counter pusher and a dice roller? Edward III's army at Crecy was much more than this.

goo
 
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