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Subject: Broken games and unbalanced -- not! rss

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Seth Owen
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I notice a whole bunch of posts lately claiming that one side or the other can't lose in War of the Ring or that certain heroes or squads are unbeatable or useless in Heroscape. A few rational voices here and there have pointed out that any given gamer or small group of gamers is unlikely to have played the game as much as the playtesters did, so claims of perfect strategies should be suspect. I've been around long enough to remember similar vigorous debates in the early days of wargaming. Now, it did turn out that some of the games WERE imbalanced and some did have favored strategies. BUT, on the other hand, lots of us found out that our "perfect" strategy couldn't survive the shock of playing somebody outside our usual circle of opponents. In other words, just because you haven't figured out a counter to a particular strategy doesn't mean there isn't one. The fact your usual opponent doesn't know how to cope with a certain hero doesn't mean some new one won't wipe the floor with him.
By all indications both War of the Ring and Heroscape are getting a lot of play. Quite frankly, as a veteran of thousands of wargames since 1969, I don't think either game is the kind of game that lends itself to perfect strategies.
As a matter of fact, it almost sounds like a lot of people who don't usually play wargames are playing these and expecting to see optimum lines of play like one tends to see in Eurogames.
Wargames are different. As wargames, there shouldn't be an optimum strategy. There should be (and appear to be for both games) a number of valid strategies. Your success in carrying your strategy out will depend on your luck, your skill at managing the battle and the relative ability of both players to adapt to changing circumstances.
Get out some more before you make a final call. I'll merely observe that there are still partisans debating the balance of the 1964 version of Avalon Hill's Gettysburg! (Some were sure the CSA was unbeatable, others think the edge goes to the Federals).
 
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Boise
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Well, there are two.
Two games that spring to mind that have pat strategies that seem unbeatable:

1. Tic Tac Toe

a) always go first

2. House Divided

a) Cav to the conscription points to raise hell with Union efforts

Though the more recent release of House Divided may have corrected this flaw, I have yet to see a rules update on Tic Tac Toe that fixes it.

As a side note, the old MB Conquest of the Empire was always won by the first player with 11 catapults. I read a blurb today on Eagle's site wherein they claim the 2005 release has new catapult rules. Perhaps you'll now need 12 to assure victory?
 
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Bernd Wechner
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Quote:
1. Tic Tac Toe

a) always go first


Well, you canalways force a draw in Tic Tac Toe if you go second, so it's rather moot whether there's a winning strategy - but granted that's not what was claimed. But I think in the game of Nim, going first can force a victory (though I can't remember for sure I confess) which is one step better.
 
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Karl
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You can calculate who will win for any given setup of Nim. HOWEVER - it is not true that this will always be the first player.

Lets assume the following setting: The player to take the last piece wins. You can take 1-3 pieces. There are 4 to start with. I'd go second, thank you ;-)
 
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Necessary Evil
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Glen Arm
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what site do you use to play A&A online?


-Malloc
 
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Jeffrey D Myers
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"Always rely upon a happy mind alone." Geshe Chekhawa.
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House Divided
In the third edition of _A House Divided_, if not the second, a calvalry unit can capture a city only while sitting on it. If the unit leaves, the city reverts to the preceding owner's control. Good news for McConnelsville, Ohio. meeple
 
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The Real and Only
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Aubrey
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A House Divided
Another good thing about A House Divided that can balance the game is the optional rules that favor either one side, or the other, or are neutral.

You could use these rules to handicap a more experienced player.

Most Historical wargames are not meant to be balanced as usually the real situation was not balanced. Thats why allot of those games have variable victory conditions, where if you performed better than the real historical performance you win.
 
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