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

Subject: The Basilius factor: is this true? rss

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Severus Snape
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The chaos that's caused by this sequence of events is something you cannot plan for. The resulting board situation you may end up could be nothing like you had at the end of the impulses. It is exactly like Chutes & Ladders with some illusion of choice. You try to put yourself into a “good” position, but if have a run of bad luck, it doesn't matter. You could fail to control any of the four connected areas you were going for, and lose four of the six leaders you have in play. You then try to scramble with your new leaders and save what you can of the situation.

This isn't a strategy game. It's a luck fest. The combination of deploying raised troops through controlled spaces before leader death rules kick in means you cannot plan from turn to turn. This sequence of luck has a larger effect on the game than your action impulses, making your choices simply illusion.

Has Eric Landes's position been "refuted" by experienced players? Is it really a game all about luck, rather than about strategy?

goo
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Colin Hunter
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There is certainly strategy, but there is also a high degree of luck. There is no way to know if it is too much or too little or just right I think without playing it. If you are interested, you are more than welcome to listen to our podcast about it, note I'm not a massive fan and David certainly feels there is too much luck. I've played it since too, but haven't really changed my opinion.

http://thenoisebeforedefeat.podbean.com/2009/04/02/the-noise...

If the question is how often games are decided by luck, I think it depends on how close your games are, but ultimately for me not quite enough interesting decisions to make it worth while for me, but your mileage may vary.
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It's certainly not a game for those who want to try to develop a sure-fire strategy that will work every game.

There is a lot of skill in the game, but it's more of the reactive "well, I didn't expect this, and what am I going to do now?" type of skill than the long-term planning type of skill. It's for those who like facing a desperate situation and enjoy trying to manage to get a foot on every base in spite of what gets thrown at you.

(Hmmm - I sometimes get that feeling playing Soviets in a Barbarossa scenario in certain East Front games. It can be quite a satisfying feeling to barely plug all the holes.)

Personally, I enjoy this type of game better than games with a low chaos factor. YMMV.
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Chris Montgomery
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I gauge a game's "luck factor" by asking "Does an experienced player generally have a better chance to win than a new player?" If the answer is yes (and in most games it is a resounding yes), then the game does not have too much luck.

In my 7 or 8 games, I feel that the most experienced player has a better chance of winning and that the game is not riddled with luck problems.

This game is not about armies and battles, it is about area control. There are mechanics built into the game system to eliminate or reduce luck, IF a player wants to go to the trouble.

For instance, if you want to take an area automatically (i.e. no luck) place a leader in it that hails from that region. If he is there alone at the end of the turn, there is no roll, he just takes over the province for his side.

Similarly, if you are worried about a big stack of units being lost, then place units with a younger leader - he doesn't have an automatic survival rate, but 1 out of 6 chance of death is far, far, better than an old leader with a 4 out of 6 chance.

Will you have turns that you are cursing the game's randomness? Yes.

But keep in mind that each turn is a DECADE, not a month, or year, but a DECADE. And history is being simulated through that lens. It also abstractly represents the fact that the Hundred Years' War was fraught with periods of peace, unexpected deaths, nobles switching sides, and all in all, quite a bit of chaos. If you can't handle chaos and unexpected events, you aren't a player that wants to simulate the Hundred Years' War, and you will not enjoy this game.

I see this game as a light, enjoyable game that can be played in roughly 3-4 hours and has lots of tension and strategy underneath the game engine despite the wailing and gnashing of teeth that other players complain about.

But all that is just my two cents, and every player has different tastes and expectations. Is Warriors of God my first choice? Absolutely not. I am a complex wargamer at heart. But this title fills a nice niche and is a great lighter game to play when not in the mood for the heavy ones.
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Colin Hunter
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I gauge a game's "luck factor" by asking "Does an experienced player generally have a better chance to win than a new player?" If the answer is yes (and in most games it is a resounding yes), then the game does not have too much luck.
Chris I agree with your sentiments, about WoG, but surely this statement isn't true. By that rationale any game that has any decisions to make would not have too much luck, since an experienced player will have more chance of winning (so basically only snakes and ladders has too much luck). Surely it is a spectrum based on taste, not a line in the sand .
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Chris Montgomery
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ibn_ul_khattab wrote:
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I gauge a game's "luck factor" by asking "Does an experienced player generally have a better chance to win than a new player?" If the answer is yes (and in most games it is a resounding yes), then the game does not have too much luck.
Chris I agree with your sentiments, about WoG, but surely this statement isn't true. By that rationale any game that has any decisions to make would not have too much luck, since an experienced player will have more chance of winning (so basically only snakes and ladders has too much luck). Surely it is a spectrum based on taste, not a line in the sand .

Quite possibly you are correct, there. When I wrote that sentence I was thinking mostly of Hannibal: Rome v. Carthage, a game in which I believe luck plays a HUGE factor on who wins, but a game that - for all its luck - I must concede is really a game of skill since the better player will usually win. Perhaps I need to refine what I mean, but I'll have to think about it.
 
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Was George Orwell an Optimist?
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Colin has the right of it. If the better player wins 55% of the time, it's difficult to distinguish from a pure luck game. If the better player wins 95%, we accept that luck can't be the primary factor.

Establishing a specific percentage that works isn't going to happen, though. Numerous other factors come into play, some more obvious than others. Game length is often a factor - for many it is inversely proportional to acceptable level of luck. Theme, component quality, and the moods of the people we last played with can all play a part.

In the end, we don't test games against specific criteria, and then do the math to see whether we like them. Instead, we fall back on criteria as we grope to explain why we like or dislike a given game.

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And, unfortunately, one of the short routes to "blaming" a game because we don't like it is "it has too much luck factor."

Some players want omnipotence and anything less is dissatisfying. We heard those complaints over and over against Commands and Colors in the first year it came out. (I remember one guy who insisted that the cards players drew during "game 1" be preserved, so that when they swapped sides and played again, they would be restricted to playing with the SAME cards as their opponent had used. (I did think he would allow the cards to be shuffled...but gee, that seems sort of random to me.)
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With all of the die rolls involved (particularly the one that determines initiative), it isn't hard to describe scenarios where the best of players would be rendered helpless. The way small swings can accumulate it would only take a few disastrous turns in a row to put a game out of reach for all practical purposes. It would not be that hard to sum the probabilities of such scenarios to show they are not all out in left field somewhere.

If you like the game, you take it in stride - the beauty of the thing is that you truly can blame the dice, not yourself. Your mistakes can easily be overshadowed by the fates. And if you win, of course it was superior play. And yes, you can maintain a winning percentage through luck alone as well as by astute play. It's the nature of the beast.

If you are not a particular fan of the game, and lose, you have just endured a long uncomfortable experience. If you win, you can't help feeling you didn't really deserve it. The beast again.

The design leads to that kind of polarized opinion - it is unusual for a quasi-historical "war game" to have such a high level of chaos. So I don't think it's any surprise that the game has elicited such strong feelings among commentators. And the debate inevitably centres around the degree to which "luck" drives the game, so it hardly helps for advocates to try and argue that there isn't any such issue.

In my case, I could accept the chaos and enjoy the game more if it played in half the time it actually takes to play.
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James Barton
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kduke wrote:
I remember one guy who insisted that the cards players drew during "game 1" be preserved, so that when they swapped sides and played again, they would be restricted to playing with the SAME cards as their opponent had used. (I did think he would allow the cards to be shuffled...but gee, that seems sort of random to me.)

Shuffling should be banned, that's random. You should be forced to draw them in the same order is the only way to make it truly fair. The result is that when going second you should know exactly what cards the opponent has, because it's what you had. Remember the only skills worth rewarding games are deterministic thinking and memory. The skills of estimating risk, managing risk, reserves and preparation of alternate planes (i.e. stochastic thinking) are not skills that should be used within any board game (nor important life skills).
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David Bohnenberger
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bentlarsen wrote:

Has Eric Landes's position been "refuted" by experienced players? Is it really a game all about luck, rather than about strategy?

goo

I'm not going to argue with his position, as it's all arguably true. However, I don't care if WofG a proper "strategy" game or not, it's still a hell of a lot of fun.
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Basilius is entitled to his opinion, and it's fine that this game has more luck/chaos management than is appealing for him. Many others hold the same opinion. But the arguments used above to compare Warriors of God with Chutes and Ladders don't make sense to me.

"You could fail to control any of the four connected areas you were going for, and lose four of the six leaders you have in play."

If your plan requires success in 4 separate die rolls where each rolls has a 50% chance of success at best (often considerably less) then it's simply a weak plan. Assuming the best possible circumstances of only 3-star leaders, you'd still be looking at a 7% chance of missing all 4 four rolls - and I doubt it is even possible to field that many 3-star leaders, so that is an extremely conservative estimate.

Assuming the six youngest possible leaders are in play, then the odds of at least one dying is 83%. Four leaders disappearing at once is unusual... but certainly not unheard of if a few "old men" are on the board. Making plans for existing leaders who have an established base of power can be highly effective, but is taking a known risk.

In both cases, the odds and effects of luck are clearly known. It is up to the player to make good plans using this information.


"The combination of deploying raised troops through controlled spaces before leader death rules kick in means you cannot plan from turn to turn. This sequence of luck has a larger effect on the game than your action impulses, making your choices simply illusion."

This also makes no sense to me.

You know 3 areas where "safe" leaders will arrive this turn. Leaders on the board are fragile, but the odds of each surviving are clearly understood. You also know where all future leaders will arrive, although can only plan for 2/3 of those leaders initially.

So how does troop deployment and leader death prevent planning? How many turns ahead do you plan to use existing leaders, when the odds of one surviving past his third turn on the board is merely 55%?

More importantly, why should well-understood uncertainties during troop deployment invalidate player choices? Area control is clearly more important than combat; winning battles is just one small (although often enjoyable) part of the game.

I understand that Basilius was trying to point out how chaos in this game system can affect player positions more than he enjoys, but those examples don't make sense. Player choice matters a great deal in this game - a quickly apparent fact when one person makes suboptimal choices or gets burned on a high-risk gamble.

(edited too many times for minor corrections)
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Jon Gautier

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bentlarsen wrote:
Has Eric Landes's position been "refuted" by experienced players? Is it really a game all about luck, rather than about strategy?

My read of the comments is that most people (including me) agree that there is a lot of chaos and luck in the game. The question is whether you enjoy that or not. Landes doesn't like it. I do. I think at this point you will just need to play the game yourself and decide what you think.

I do disagree that the game is "all about luck", which to me means that playing the game is no different than rolling dice to see who gets a certain number (something which people happen to enjoy a great deal--they even bet on it!). There are lots of choices to be made in this game, and some choices are better than others. A player making good choices will beat a player making bad choices. That would not be true if the game were "all about luck."

That said, if the rolls go badly against you, and your opponent is not screwing up, you will have a hard time--even if you play well. Gee, kind of like a lot of wargames, when you think about it. But there are hundreds of die rolls in a game of WofG, so the runs of luck usually even out. And if they don't, well, it depends on you whether you enjoyed it. The last game I played, my opponent did get lucky and I lost by 6 points.

But you know what? I had a really good time playing, even if what I thought was my good play lost to some improbable die rolls. And that is so subjective that you won't really know if it is for you unless you have played it.
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jwoodall04 wrote:
Landes' position is illogical, but that doesn't mean the game may/may not have too much luck for you.

My objection isn't with his position or opinion, but with his flawed assertion that there is little to no relevant strategy in the game during the review - especially when that assertion may prejudice people against the game if they don't know why it is incorrect.

If someone states that clam chowder tastes exactly like a meaty lasagna, when he really means that he doesn't enjoy the taste of either, that person has failed to provide a reasonable or useful review of those two foods.
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bentlarsen wrote:
Quote:
The chaos that's caused by this sequence of events is something you cannot plan for. The resulting board situation you may end up could be nothing like you had at the end of the impulses. It is exactly like Chutes & Ladders with some illusion of choice. You try to put yourself into a “good” position, but if have a run of bad luck, it doesn't matter. You could fail to control any of the four connected areas you were going for, and lose four of the six leaders you have in play. You then try to scramble with your new leaders and save what you can of the situation.

This isn't a strategy game. It's a luck fest. The combination of deploying raised troops through controlled spaces before leader death rules kick in means you cannot plan from turn to turn. This sequence of luck has a larger effect on the game than your action impulses, making your choices simply illusion.

Has Eric Landes's position been "refuted" by experienced players? Is it really a game all about luck, rather than about strategy?

goo
The rant of a wargamer, who feels burned on a purchase because the luck management in WOG is too high for his tastes. His review has truth in that a player can't position or plan too far in advance. This game is all about control of areas. Maximize your odds the best you can. Position yourself to slow down your opponent's chances. Have fun throughing dice. I would only suggest to Eric Landes that he try games out before purchasing to save his precious time and money.
 
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Severus Snape
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Bobby Tweaks wrote:
bentlarsen wrote:
Quote:
The chaos that's caused by this sequence of events is something you cannot plan for. The resulting board situation you may end up could be nothing like you had at the end of the impulses. It is exactly like Chutes & Ladders with some illusion of choice. You try to put yourself into a “good” position, but if have a run of bad luck, it doesn't matter. You could fail to control any of the four connected areas you were going for, and lose four of the six leaders you have in play. You then try to scramble with your new leaders and save what you can of the situation.

This isn't a strategy game. It's a luck fest. The combination of deploying raised troops through controlled spaces before leader death rules kick in means you cannot plan from turn to turn. This sequence of luck has a larger effect on the game than your action impulses, making your choices simply illusion.

Has Eric Landes's position been "refuted" by experienced players? Is it really a game all about luck, rather than about strategy?

goo
The rant of a wargamer, who feels burned on a purchase because the luck management in WOG is too high for his tastes. His review has truth in that a player can't position or plan too far in advance. This game is all about control of areas. Maximize your odds the best you can. Position yourself to slow down your opponent's chances. Have fun throughing dice. I would only suggest to Eric Landes that he try games out before purchasing to save his precious time and money.

Could you possibly become any more condescending in your tone? Only if you try, I suppose. Eric is an intelligent geek who tends to avoid "hit & run" criticisms (though I would agree with those who raised the "2.5" issue). Liking both Eric and WoG, I posted his comments in the hopes of garnering intelligent debate, not assinine fly-by's.

goo
 
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sduke wrote:
This game is "Yahtzee goes to the middle ages".

Ya know, it is possible to criticize a game without being insulting. Just saying.
 
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wifwendell wrote:
sduke wrote:
This game is "Yahtzee goes to the middle ages".

Ya know, it is possible to criticize a game without being insulting. Just saying.

I don't think the comparison to Yahtzee is insulting. It is, however, wildly inaccurate and useless for anyone wanting to discuss the game or clearly understand why it's disliked.
 
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Severus Snape
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newuser wrote:
wifwendell wrote:
sduke wrote:
This game is "Yahtzee goes to the middle ages".

Ya know, it is possible to criticize a game without being insulting. Just saying.

I don't think the comparison to Yahtzee is insulting. It is, however, wildly inaccurate and useless for anyone wanting to discuss the game or clearly understand why it's disliked.

Just as long as it's not insulting. Just saying. Just. Maybe. Not.

goo
 
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sduke wrote:
Yahtzee is a great game and a lot of fun. Finding insult in that is a little too sensitive.
"wildly inaccurate" is your opinion too.

I like Yahtzee. Yet, I find that forming a long straight in Warriors of God, or a full house, does me very little good. So "wildly inaccurate" is an opinion that I think is accurate about your wildly inaccurate opinion.
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Severus Snape
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sduke wrote:
Yahtzee is a great game and a lot of fun. Finding insult in that is a little too sensitive.
"wildly inaccurate" is your opinion too. I and many others, find it a pretty accurate description. Again, not trying to rain on anyone else's parade, fill your boots if you like this one. It clearly has a following and that's great.

Steve, I hope this is not overly snarky, but who are these "many" who find Yahtzee a "pretty accurate description" of WoG?

The only aspect where I can see Yahtzee being compared to WoG is in the use of dice. The roll of the die produces a certain degree of randomness or luck, but, seriously, WoG calls for far more decision making than Yahtzee. On what level of strategy can the two games be compared?

I find the use of "Chutes and Ladders" and Yahtzee to be less than useful in an overall, game-to-game, comparison. When we cannot find the right words or terminology to express our feelings about a game, we sometimes fall back on apple to oranges comparisons. Or so it seems.

But I would be one of those who compare those battle system from "Hannibal: Rome vs. Carthange" to the card game, Fish. Naughty me.

goo
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You know guys, I realize this is a game discussion site and all, but this thread is getting past any real usefullness.

There really is a fair amount of consensus among most people here and in the other threads about this game: WofG has a lot of chaos, die rolling and unpredictability. Some folks like it and some folks don't like it.

A smaller number think the game is all or mostly luck, and they seem to feel strongly enough about it to make their points again and again. And again. OK, we get it. (I've never understood the need to keep pointing out how much you hate a game, but it does seem to happen a lot. That's life on the web, I guess.)

So there it is. Try the game. Let us know what you think. Or not. Try not to get too upset if you feel you wasted 3 hours.
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Dieroll Honker wrote:
I've never understood the need to keep pointing out how much you hate a game, but it does seem to happen a lot

I think that some people find it irritating when they don't like something and someone else does.
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sduke wrote:
"wildly inaccurate" is your opinion too.

Although I agree with Jon's comment above that the discussion seems to have little benefit going forward, my "wildly inaccurate" comment needs to be supported or it's no more valid than the unsubstantiated claims I disagree with.

Yahtzee is a pure dice game where a player's score is determined entirely by the results of dice. You roll dice, then choose to either accept the result and score points, or re-roll a subset of dice in hopes of improving the current combination of numbers. Odds are important, but so is risk taking in some cases. Strategy is limited and entirely dependant on what each fresh roll presents. Entire games play out in a matter of minutes and choices are usually somewhat limited.

Warriors of God is an area-control board game. You move leaders around a board, take control of armies, manage resources, and engage in battles (or threaten to) as a means of increasing your influence. Points are scored each turn primarily by holding control of key areas. Dice are used to determine combat results, leader death, and (if you don't have the right leaders available) control of areas... but good players almost never rely on die rolls because the game provides other mechanisms for controlling ares and scoring points. Gameplay is more complex, presents a much broader range of options for players, and involves more strategy (since you know exactly when and where 2/3 of your new leaders will appear on the board).

While both games involve dice, chance (to different degrees), and taking advantage of the best odds possible, they are clearly radically different games in more ways than they are the same. This is not opinion - it's fact.

I'm not suggesting that anyone should or will like Warriors of God... but the extreme comparisons to Chutes and Ladders or Yahtzee are not accurate or useful. They are at best a gross over-simplification, and at worst intentionally misleading.
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Severus Snape
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I'm not suggesting that anyone should or will like Warriors of God... but the extreme comparisons to Chutes and Ladders or Yahtzee are not accurate or useful. They are at best a gross over-simplification, and at worst intentionally misleading.


A few of us have made this point. I am--was--hoping that there might be some serious discussion of the WoG game system, mechanics and what not, on this and the other thread I began. Instead, it quickly turns into mud-slinging along the lines of "how can you be such an idiot to love/hate this game?" which reminds me too much of American politics.

I think WoG is a fine game, though I do not have the time to go into the detail it deserves. At the same time, I think Basilius has made positive contributions to BGG and his dissenting opinion is at least worthy of respect, if not agreement.

Is it too much to ask for thoughtful discussion? If so, we can just post the kind of early reviews that games like Washington's War is receiving and be done with it.

goo

 
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