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Subject: Some observations/questions on PG:A rss

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Steve Malczak
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Hi folks,

So I got this game this weekend and my friends and I got to play a few games today. We played a few 'team' games (basically just pairing up to play 2v2). The Americans won all three games but we don't necessarily think that is due to any balance problem or anything - the Ami players just seemed to have more of what they needed when they needed. We played on the Training Grounds map, first with the Training Scenario and then with the 'Tournament' format with all cards available.

A few things we noticed:

1) Artillery is ridiculously powerful once you have a few on the board. As the Amis, we had 4 pieces in the center(ish) of the board and in practice that meant that almost any attack we launched was a guaranteed kill. Attack values of 20+ were not uncommon and compared to a 5-8 defense (even 10+ for some heavy armor), it just didnt matter. This tended to move towards a 'landslide' feel where the Germans were just helpless. The best they could do was field a few more units and watch them die under the massed arty fire.

2) Artillery is ALSO extremely hard to kill. Since for the most part Arty doesnt have to move to support (ie, only when the front line is moving up), Arty is usually Dug-In. The means that they get to shoot first and as per above, when you have a TON of it out there (supported by another unit or two), it fires first and practically insta-kills the attacking unit.We could not see a very good counter too it. Maybe if Arty couldnt dig or or couldnt support if dug-in that turn or something? I dunno.

3) The Greyhound unit seems way too good for it's cost. It's only 3 Prestige and it's far better than the White Scout Car (also 3 Prestige) and still better than the German Scout Cars (one of which is even more expensive). Is the 3 Prestige a misprint or are they really supposed to be THAT good for the cost?

4) Some of the action cards are either extremely poorly worded or else extremely powerful. There is one (don't recall the name) that appears to let you bring in any unit in your hand, anywhere you control, for only 3 Prestige AND it's not activated when doing so so it can still move/attack. On the other hand, there are plenty that seem kind of silly and rarely worth much more than their discard value for combat.

All in all we dont really know what to think yet. On one hand it certainly has some interesting mechanics. There is definitely some thought and planning required in order to execute your moves and attacks properly. But on the other hand, it seems like some of the Action Cards are so incredibly powerful that if one side is drawing a few and the other isnt, it's easy to get knocked into a 'death spiral' and not ba able to recover. This is very evident once one side gets a good pile of Arty on the table.

So are we missing something with the above? How are other folks dealing with massed arty? Do you feel that the cards you draw can begin to outweigh other considerations?

Thanks!
 
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Martin Gallo
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On the reinforcement card, I do believe you have to also pay the Prestige cost of the reinforcing card. I might be wrong as I am new to the game and do not have my rules handy right now.

Artillery was very powerful in combat. It was also generally poorly protected. I am not sure the game reflects the poor defense very well. I would be willing to try a house rule that Dug In artillery does not get first fire.

Another minor issue is that coordination of artillery was not always very good so a possible house rule might be something like the Minefield rule where a Tactical Modifier is drawn for each artillery support attempt and it fails on a -1 and subtracts from your offense on a -2 instead (friendly fire effect).
 
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Mathew Anderson
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Talenn wrote:
Hi folks,

So I got this game this weekend and my friends and I got to play a few games today. We played a few 'team' games (basically just pairing up to play 2v2). The Americans won all th...

Thanks!


Hi Talenn! Thanks for the comments. Sounds like you had a great time playing!

Artillery can indeed be tricky to deal with, given who initiates combat, whether there are terrain tiles that negate the bonuses, such as Bocages, and defensive bonuses that make them harder to kill.

I'd be interested in hearing from others as well how you dealt with these types of units and what outcomes in various scenarios occurred.

What I find when playing is that the advantages and disadvantages can really swing the tide of battle, both ways... so even if you are getting hammered hard by artillery, you can turn it around when it's your chance to return the favor .
 
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Steve Malczak
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Thanks for the replies. I'm hoping we just missed something.

Question - can supporting units be Dug-In? Can they Dig-in on the turn they support?

That was kind of the issue we had...arty digs in and then you cant attack it (without having a card that kills it or the entrenchment). The arty fires first (Dug in) and basically auto-kills due to all of the support fire.

In any case, what happened in our final game was that the US (with massive arty) just attacked everywhere along the line. With advance and continued support, they just mowed down every unit that was placed.

We saw the optional rules for arty, but we're hoping we are just missing something the base rules since this seems to be such an obvious issue. It was our 2nd game when we started to see how disgusting massed arty could be and it was our 3rd that we saw that if someone gets this rolling, it seems pretty darned hard to even survive for a turn, let alone start to push back.
 
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Chuck Kroegel
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Hi there,

You are correct that the side that masses artillery can steam roller a victory.

Panzer General was designed to be a hard hitting, attack oriented game to be played in under an hour. The artillery was purposely allowed to be a game over event, escalating the victory.

When players understand that artillery can dominate if not quickly countered the problem is lessened. Board position and proper hand management of your cards can counteract the artillery strategy. There have been times where along the way to massing artillery I lost the front line and the game.

Keep in mind that a unit that attacks loses its Dug In status.

I also like to play with ALL the cards in the Action Deck and Unit Deck, which combined together allows all the tactics to handle artillery and a host of other challenges.
 
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Steve Malczak
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Thanks for the response. I guess that makes sense from a game-design point of view and one of our early fears for PG:AA was that it would stalemate and go back and forth forever. The arty certainly prevents that!

We did play with all of the action cards and unit deck for our 2nd and 3rd game. With that many unit cards though, it seemed like whomever drew the arty first and got it on the table had a tremendous advantage. Now that we know what to do, I'm gonna sense a lot of arty will be bought with the starting points (30 or whatever) and that will put it on the table early and en masse.

Hopefully we'll see some sort of counter to it at that point (that doesnt solely rely on the luck of the draw cards). There are a lot of interesting interactions with the units but they seem very secondary when the arty masses up. For example, AT guns are great vs AFVs (surprise!), weak vs Infantry, but also have great support values. In theory, that means you should use a decent infantry unit to kill the AT guns and remove that support. In reality, since the AT guns auto-dig, they get to shoot first and their weak anti-infantry values dont matter if they are backed up by a handful of arty which kills the attacking infantry before it can fire.

In any case, we are looking forward to trying the game again and seeing what we can do with the knowledge we now have. Do you recommend any specific map for good balanced play? We played all of ours on the Training Grounds map. Is therea better one?
 
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Mathew Anderson
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Hi Steve, give our recently released tournament scenario a try!:
http://geekdo.com/filepage/52025/tournament-scenario-1

The game also comes with a variety of other scenarios, the Metz being one of my early favorites. If you play The Bulge (or any other really), be sure to use the v1.3 manual.
 
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Tim Snoddy
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I am at the point of giving up on PGAA. I admire Chuck for his previous work as expressed elsewhere on this forum. It is also not a case of sour grapes as the board game is not like the original computer games. I bought the game hoping for a quick throw down game for the spare hour or two where anything more serious seemed too much. Yet I expect the game to have some depth to play. There seem to be some game killing defects for me though.

Set up is arduous. Even separating the components needed for a given scenario didn't seem to push set up below 20 minutes. Then you have to constantly add and remove counters from the board for moving, firing and digging in.

First off the game board is five tiles long. Whoever goes first will advance to hoover up prestige and position. Player two is forced to do the same or will have quickly given up too much of the table and have nowhere to deploy units from their hand. Player three will now advance to row three and attack the other player in row two as they have not had a chance to dig in. The 10 prestige given to the second player seems to do little to balance the game against the huge advantage in going first.

The real game killer is the combat system. It is much easier to attack than defend as you get to count supporting units whilst the defender does not. So for example in my game last night a Panzer IV unit in open terrain easily knocked out dug in American GI's in a town. Terrain effects seem paltry. In this example the infantry got a +4 on the combat chart for terrain but the combat cards and sacrifice card can hugely outweigh this, eg +7 for sacrificing a Panzer II. Some of the combat cards can almost eliminate a unit before "real combat" begins. It then gets worse. Lose by even 1 point of morale and you have to vacate an objective hex and the attacker gets a free advance in. I expected it would take repeated attacks and use of a lot of resources to take enemy held objectives, apparently not.

I realise the game is not meant to be an historically accurate simulation but for me it neither seems to work as a card game (too clumsy to set up) or a wargame (units are more powerful in attack than defence).

Can anybody who likes it explain why and perhaps convince me to persevere?
 
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Tim Earl
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I'd like to echo Tim's (the other Tim's) concerns and ask the same question. There was enough positive press about this game to convince me to buy it, but now I don't see that it's justified.
 
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Martin Gallo
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Is it a bad game or just a bad simulation?

I agree that the simulation value is reduced because of the way support and artillery is handled and the set up time is a bit on the long and tedious side. I did enjoy playing it, though.
 
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Juan Luis Lorenzo
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For me is a good game that it doesn't pretend to be a good simulation. It sacrifices a lot in order to be a funny game. And it works for me!
 
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Steve Malczak
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Update:

Ok, we get together to play a few more games of PG:AA today. A few people were new to the game and a few were people who played the last time. We made sure to tell the new players the power of the arty if left unchecked.

With that knowledge in hand, I'm happy to report that the games were much more enjoyable. The players actively looked for ways to thwart the arty and although mistakes were made, it didnt dominate play the way it had in our previous games. Cards were saved which could deal with massive support and other counter-measures were attempted (such as avoiding contact with units that could move and attack with massive support or trying to get through and deploy units next to arty to keep it under threat).

I'm not 100% convinced yet that the game wont come down to who gets the 'arty train' rolling the best despite the counter-measures, but it definitely felt a lot more back and forth this time around.

 
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Mathew Anderson
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Talenn wrote:
Update:

Ok, we get together to play a few more games of PG:AA today. A few people were new to the gam...


Thanks Talenn for the update! We're certainly open to ways we can update the rules and overall gameplay manual to make the game more enjoyable. It was built originally to offer a lot of flexibility for this.

If you have any ideas on rules that you could present to the rest of the community on how to better balance their games, we'd be glad to help promote them!

Keep in mind our upcoming board games, Guardians of Graxia and Panzer General: Russian Assault. I think you'll take quite a good liking to them when they become available.
 
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Steve Malczak
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We played a few more games today with similar results to yesterday - ie, things felt a bit more fluid and balanced. That said, arty still feels a just a bit over the top and it really is the focal point of the game IMO. Our focus each game is how we can thwart the opponent's intended arty build-up (almost the exclusion of other considerations).

However I dont think that either of the two 'optional rules' I've seen posted on the official forums are quite necessary (the first being that arty can only support once per turn which is way to harsh and the second being that it costs 2 prestige per arty that supports). I would advocate something simpler than that such as maybe units cant support while dug-in or at least units cant dig-in that turn if they support.

It also feels kinda of wrong when massive damage to an arty unit doesnt reduce the support. So possibly Ranged support (only) is reduced by any negative morale on the unit?

In any case, the game is still quite fun and I'm looking forward to playing again next time we get together.

Thanks!
 
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Martin Gallo
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Maybe limiting the amount of artillery would help. Not every battle had a plentiful amount of support...
 
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