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Subject: Command and Colors Ancients is Overrated rss

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Julia Cope
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Am I the only one who thinks Command and Colors: Ancients is overrated?
It's a nice, little game which I find extremely boring and almost comedically overstated here on the Geek.

I know many argue that it's very subtley elegant (or elegantly subtle) and that it's sophisticated beyond its surface appearance. Sometimes those kind of arguments sound like rationalizations to me, the same kind my inner voice whispered to me after I shelled out almost 2 Bills for the base game and two expansions and still found it disappointing after a dozen plays.

The problem is the card mechanics, in a nutshell. I honestly think the whole "the cards mimic the Fog of War" motif is completely overblown. I find the cards limiting. But if I complain to one of my friends, they'll patronize me with "You just don't get it" or "It's the fog of war..." That's akin to saying, "No, I don't see Jesus' face in your pancake." and you answer, "Well, it's your problem, you must not have enough faith..."

The dirty little secret about Ancients is that it's the same broken system that was used in Battle Cry and Memoir '44. Any attempt to claim this system is "perfect" for ancient warfare simply sounds like another rationalization to me. This is a light card game with an ancient military theme pasted on top. I find all this talk of the high drama and tactical strategy involved in this game very puzzling.

Please disregard this post, it's just me, I must not "get" it...the Fog of War is clouding up my eyes...
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steve mizuno
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The Vegas line on the over/under for this thread being locked has been set at 23 hours.
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Jim Cote
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I agree with you. It's a rationalization, a cop-out. I don't think the mechanic is "dumb" per se, just that it's not a good abstraction for a wargame. I even feel the same way about Combat Commander. Looks like a wargame. Doesn't feel like one.
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Paul Schulzetenberg
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I don't know what you're talking about. The Emperor's new clothes are absolutely beautiful.
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No, you are completely right.
Like with all games, everyone rates a particular game exactly the same. Only with Commands & Colors: Ancients it is a conspiracy where people rate it higher than they normally would, for unknown reasons. This is evident in the high standard deviation of the ratings of the game. Other games don't show this, there is no standard deviation.
Take e.g. Agricola. Everyone loves it. Never would anyone rate it anything less or more than 8.
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Alex Treacher
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It's subjective. I think it's overrated too, but a lot of people really like it, so regardless of what one might think of the game itself, it's certainly done a lot for the popularity of classical-period wargaming and for that matter, wargaming in general.

If you're interested, my thoughts on the game are here:
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/372315/part-review-part-...
What was interesting is that my review of the game, while attracting rather predictable flak from fanboys, was also instrumental in persuading another reader to buy the game... And I liked that. Just because a game doesn't appeal to one person doesn't mean another person won't simply love everything about it.

I sold my copy of the game and don't feel inclined to ever play it again. And that's OK. Another person may feel that it's the bestest-game-ever and may never dream of buying a better wargame.

And that's OK too...
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Brad Miller
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Why would you buy two expansions if you didn't like the base game?
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I am a former owner of C&CA that didn't like it that much, mostly because of the theme.

However to state that something is overrated implies an objective standard for what is fundamentally a subjective system. If that's the case, then please tell everyone what the "correct" rating is: 3? 5.839?
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Jonathan "Spartan Spawn, Sworn, Raised for Warring!"
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I personally enjoy it, its a game that I have fun with so I rate it accordingly. I find Dominion to be boring but a ton of people love it. What works for some doesnt work for others .
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M H
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Windopaene wrote:
Why would you buy two expansions if you didn't like the base game?

At least she played it several times.
I heard stories about people buying games and expansions even if they don't play the game. Heck, they even buy expansions though they don't own the base game.

I'm guilty myself. I have El Grande and Jambo plus multiple expansions and haven't played either of them. OK, i played El Grande when i was a teen, but i didn't liked it then. Yet, i bought it used with the expansions.
The difference is that i probably wouldn't start a thread in the General Gaming section if i discover that i don't like these games after trying them. I would just sell them.
The point is that the OP says nothing about the game, but only something about the differing taste of the poster.
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This site needs a forum where we can put the faux offended so we can ignore them.
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Orion J.N. Winder
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I'll have to disagree entirely with your premise. I'm not sure exactly what it's rating should be over games that are classics, but it's surely past the "period of the NEW". I think it's a perfect blend of a simple system and a timeframe/period/genre that it fits hand in glove.
Memoir's ok for a lite game, Battlelore's a decent fantasy wargame lite. But Ancients really shines for fun, simplicity, and thematic feel.
I've been a gamer since I was kid, I've still got most of my AH games from the sixties. I think I've a pretty good range of tastes in my collection of over 900 games, but Ancients will hit the table more often than any others if I've got my choice, and it seems to be always a hit with wargamers, gamers, or even non-gamers that I've taught it to and/or played it with.
Perhaps this is just a "disgruntled" person feeling it's TOO popular...heck once upon a time I felt the same way about the Beetles, that was until years later I actually listened more to their stuff and realized that they were excellent and way ahead of their time, and probably deserved their kudos :-)
It may not be your cup of tea, heck I know ASL players that couldn't stand UpFront (which to me are BOTH superb and Classic games of Renown), but that's just tastes. They vary, doesn't make the ratings less valid. Personally I don't care for games that make me feel like I just "balanced my checkbook" for hours at a time, that's not my feeling of fun game play. But some do, hence life with all its splendid diversity :-)

Light, love and laughter to you and yours,
Orion
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That's a great way to introduce yourself to a new community.

The good news is, it'll be easy to trade.

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Andy Van Zandt
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JuliaCope wrote:


The dirty little secret about Ancients is that it's the same broken system that was used in Battle Cry and Memoir '44.


"dirty little secret"? i've never played Ancients, but i still knew it used the same system, conveniently called the "command and colors" system (hidden secretly across the front of the box in the title of the game).

edit to add: also, i thought the block-wargame mechanic was the part that was supposed to mimic fog-of-war, not the cards? i'm not sure how the cards could be perceived that way.
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Kelsey Miller
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I just picked this game up a few weeks ago and I find it pretty enjoyable.

I've heard talk about this 'fog of war' simulated by cards and maybe it's the scenarios we played but to me fog of war refers to not knowing where the enemy troops are. We fought in a big field with minimal hills on the side for one scenario so I think it would be pretty obvious where the enemy was. shake

I think the card system is neat as a vehicle for troop movement though when I think of fog of war I think of a campaign style map and not knowing where the armies are or city battles with hidden movement in a video game. Once we did a pretty cool Warzone battle with a massive mountain in the middle. We had refs and curtain hanging in the middle blocking the two sides. Only when once force topped the middle was the curtain moved.

I do like Command and Colors: Ancients and don't regret buying it. Though as numerous other people have mentioned I'd love to see some non-Roman related ancients. I liked playing the Egyptians in miniature battles so would love to see more variety in forces supported by official playing pieces.
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Alistair Browning
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I agree with the original premise.

I think the problem is CC:A fails at both ends of the spectrum. It's too light for even a light wargame, but it isn't deep enough to fulfill a real strategic niche either.

I still have it and like it, but I don't play it too much. It is true that it's not as good as its reputation.
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しんぶん赤旗
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truekid wrote:

edit to add: also, i thought the block-wargame mechanic was the part that was supposed to mimic fog-of-war, not the cards? i'm not sure how the cards could be perceived that way.


The blocks don't create a fog of war effect as they have stickers on both sides, unlike block games such as europe engulfed or eastfront.
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Andy Van Zandt
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ah, that part i did not know.
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Caleb
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JuliaCope wrote:
Am I the only one who thinks Command and Colors: Ancients is overrated?
It's a nice, little game which I find extremely boring and almost comedically overstated here on the Geek.

I know many argue that it's very subtley elegant (or elegantly subtle) and that it's sophisticated beyond its surface appearance. Sometimes those kind of arguments sound like rationalizations to me, the same kind my inner voice whispered to me after I shelled out almost 2 Bills for the base game and two expansions and still found it disappointing after a dozen plays.

The problem is the card mechanics, in a nutshell. I honestly think the whole "the cards mimic the Fog of War" motif is completely overblown. I find the cards limiting. But if I complain to one of my friends, they'll patronize me with "You just don't get it" or "It's the fog of war..." That's akin to saying, "No, I don't see Jesus' face in your pancake." and you answer, "Well, it's your problem, you must not have enough faith..."

The dirty little secret about Ancients is that it's the same broken system that was used in Battle Cry and Memoir '44. Any attempt to claim this system is "perfect" for ancient warfare simply sounds like another rationalization to me. This is a light card game with an ancient military theme pasted on top. I find all this talk of the high drama and tactical strategy involved in this game very puzzling.

Please disregard this post, it's just me, I must not "get" it...the Fog of War is clouding up my eyes...



I agree, though I've not played C&C, I have played Battle Cry and M44. I think they both suck, and I doubt this would be any better, wooden blocks notwithstanding. The cards don't model anything remotely like fog of war, command-control, etc.
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Mark Christopher
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I've never thought of the cards representing any sort of fog of war, but rather friction. They're an inorganic (I vastly prefer the way this is handled in Ben Hull's Musket and Pike series) way to represent how difficult it was to command an army back then. I do enjoy the game a great deal; all the mechanics lead to a very fun 45-minute battle that gives reasonable results. However, it doesn't scratch that deeper wargame itch I often get.
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Leo Zappa
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I don't know what level of either wargaming experience or military experience the OP has, so it's tough to know where they are coming from in their criticism of the C&C system (to include, apparently, M44 and Battlecry), but I will say, having both quite a bit of wargaming experience and a number of years of military experience, the C&C system to me is an excellent means to capture the reality of the confusion which has always been rampant on the battlefield. "Fog of war" can encompass a number of elements beyond simply not knowing what forces the enemy has deployed or what their battle plan is. Runners getting lost or killed while relaying orders, smoke and fog obscuring the commander's view of the battlefield, erroneous reports given to commanders which lead them to making bad decisions - all of these things can be considered elements of the "fog of war", or the concept of "friction" and are well represented by the limiting mechanism of the action card system in the C&C games. If anything, I've always found the "I get to move all of my units exactly when and where I want them every turn" aspect of traditional wargames to quite a bit more unrealistic than the action card system of the C&C system. I think that this element is especially apt for the Ancients version of the C&C system, since ancient commanders could only deliver orders within the sound of their voice, and had to rely on runners to deliver and receive messages at a distance, a method fraught with unreliability. Frankly, once the initial battle formation was drawn up and the first orders were issued, the ancient commander had remarkably little influence on the course of the battle outside of his immediate location. He had to hope his subordinate commanders understood his battle plan and acted accordingly. Timing of coordinated actions was especially difficult because of this. I think the C&C system does a great job of capturing the feel and the effect of these difficulties on ancient command.

In summary, to me, the C&C Ancients game is perhaps the most realistic ancients game going in terms of the critical aspect of command and control of ancient formations. I acknowledge that this might not be everyone's cup of tea, especially if they like the ability to order all of their units to their heart's content, regardless of how unrealistic such an ability might be (and this is OK, because people play games for different reasons, and "realism" is not always as important as "playability" or other considerations. People should play games that they find fun, so from this perspective, even if I disagree with the OP's premise, I am certainly not suggesting that they should "try harder" to like C&C. If they don't like it, move to another game - there are so many to choose from, and life is too short to try and force yourself to like a game because other people tell you that you should like it!)
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D Hansey
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I think the idea with the cards is that they represent command and control not fog of war.

I've only played the game a few times and like the fact that I don't have complete control over the battlefield.

The problem with the game for me is that it's too generic, though, I made peace with it.
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Lucas Hedgren
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Moved to Command & Colors: Ancients - General Forum.
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BrentS
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Smurfy6 wrote:
I think the idea with the cards is that they represent command and control not fog of war.



I agree here. I don't personally understand the "fog of war" justification for the system, probably because I don't really understand what "fog of war" means. What I will say is that I don't find the card based command system a limitation but an enjoyable core feature of the game....hand management and timing are crucial, a great challenge and lots of fun....and with that in mind I don't give a toss whether it models historical battle or not.

Dropping an unconstructive, inflammatory thread like this on a forum frequented by fans of the game seems like a completely pointless exercise. Maybe the OP can enlighten us as to the purpose of her post.....unless it was to be unconstructive and inflammatory, in which case she may as well not bother.

Brent.
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Brian Downing
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I've not been in the military, Leo, but I do have some questions about some points that you raise...

desertfox2004 wrote:
"Fog of war" can encompass a number of elements beyond simply not knowing what forces the enemy has deployed or what their battle plan is. Runners getting lost or killed while relaying orders, smoke and fog obscuring the commander's view of the battlefield, erroneous reports given to commanders which lead them to making bad decisions - all of these things can be considered elements of the "fog of war", or the concept of "friction" and are well represented by the limiting mechanism of the action card system in the C&C games.


I am with you on the uncertainty bits, but I disagree that the card system implements this uncertainty. When I'm playing the game and I get a crap hand of cards, I don't think to myself "Gee, I guess my orders got lost" or "The messenger fell into a hole." Instead, I'm thinking "Wow, this card system just seems so out of place in a wargame!"

Again, every element you list is indeed the "Fog of War" but I think it's a stretch to say Command and Colors implements this fog via the cards. The cards simply replace other means of deciding who and where to move, like dice or Action Point systems...

desertfox2004 wrote:
I acknowledge that this might not be everyone's cup of tea, especially if they like the ability to order all of their units to their heart's content, regardless of how unrealistic such an ability might be.


One test of realism is to compare not just the ends, but the means, of a the "fake" battle and its real counterpart. Just because a particular scenario results in the correct side winning doesn't necessarily mean the game is realistic. If the details of your simulated battle, due to the limitations of the cards, vary wildly from what really happened, how realistic is that?

You have to admit that one of the quirks of this system is that you are forced to sometimes issue rather incongruous, and sometimes just stupid or suicidal, orders based solely on the cards. Again, perhaps some folks like this element, but it's not at all realistic and pushes this game into a more abstract, card management genre instead of the light wargame it purports to be.

For example, let's say it's to my extreme advantage to employ some heavy hitters a at a certain stage of the battle. However, I just don't have the proper cards to move them, so they are stranded in place. Fans of this system and apologists for the cards would say, "See, your heavies got stuck in the mud! Fog of war!" But a more realistic wargame should, in my opinion, at least allow an attempt to move the troops in an authentic manner, even if that move fails. But to say the lack of the proper cards to move those units "simulates" the attempt, and failure, to move them is a bit over-the-top.

Couldn't one argue that freely moving and ordering units (besides being more fun in a game) could represent individual orders from sub-leaders and commanders? Like you said earlier, once the battle started, it's not like the General's voice could be heard above the din.

Once again, to each his own, but I'm still not convinced that the card system in this game is any more realistic than any other system, and I'm certainly not sold on the cards as Fog of War, either...


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