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Subject: Wilderness War, Paths of Glory, or something else? rss

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Jason
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Should I buy Wilderness War, Paths of Glory, or something else? In order to facilitate more inforemed responses to this question here is some more information about me, my experiences, and my current gaming group.

My wargaming experience is limited compared to most resident wargamers but more than many of the Eurogamers here. I played the hell out of stratego as a kid, played a lot of A & A in high school, played Shogun in college when time allowed, played some HOTW in 2001-2002. Last year I purchased Eagle's American Civil War, Napoleon in Europe, War! AOI, and Sid Meier's Civ just before finding the Geek. However, I have not had the chnace to play any of them besides Civ which didn;t go so well. After reading the rules War! looks horrible, but I am intrigued by the combat rules of NiE and ACW which have you setting up battle lines to resolve combat with both sides attempting to break the others line and force a retreat. I don't know how well it works in practice, but it sounds very interesting just from reading the rules. However, I currently usually play with a group that is eurogame centric and with Eagle's reputation even if I do convince them to play a longer game it likely won't be NiE or ACW.

Last fall, I picked up basic Squad leader and its three expansions. It looked interesting, but I never found anyone to play so I traded it earlier in the year for some Eurogames my group and my other gaming partner my wife will play. I have since picked up Wizard Kings and Memoir 44. Mem 44 worked well with the wife. It works well as a very simplified wargame, but I want something with a little more strategy and less luck.

One of the members in my group is interested in playing some longer games so we got together and played Wizard Kings one day and Doom on another. We had a lot of fun with Doom on our first go round, but I found Wizard Kings to be lacking. However, I don't think it is the system I dislike, but the fact that all of the supposedly "good" scenarios use armies and maps I don't have. In our game we simply used maps 1-4 and my elves fought his orcs with one hundred point armies. Played this way the game seemed a little "eh". However, I am interested in trying other Columbia block games in the future. Additionally, I have considered EE, but the eight hour playing time and high cost for a game that I am unsure my one "longer game" playing buddy seems too risky at this point.

However, I have heard good things about the GMT card-driven games and I am interested in trying one. I believe that their 4 hour time frame is doable. The 35$ price tag through thoughthammer is reasonable, and I can combine a purchase of one of them with more two player Eurogames to play with my wife and group. However, I don't know where to start. As far as which historical setting I would prefer, I don't have a preference. I enjoy reading about almost all things historical and find both the pre-revolutionary conflict in North America and World War I interesting. If I were designing a game, I would think the guerilla tactics of the French and Natives in North America would be easier to design a game around than the relative stalemate of World War I. However, I understand that using the card mechanic the designer has made Paths of Glory into a very good World War I game if not a perfect simulation.

So which of the two should I purchase? or should I pick up something completely different?

On a different note, are the current rules for C & C Ancients posted anywhere. I didn't see them the last time I checked the GMT site, and I'm interested in seeing how much they've added to the game. If enough is added, I may preorder it. Also, does anyone know exactly what they mean by "cardboard standup"? I don't need minis, but also don't want some cheesy cardboard cutout of a soldier in a base like the doors in Doom that will simply get knocked over. I'd rather have a stack of oversized counters with unit information on them.

Jason



 
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David Seddon
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Well, I'm just learning WW now in order to play it sometime in the next few weeks. If you've played Hannibal, then I'd say it was slightly more complicated than that but with some of the flavour of the event cards. It looks really good, but I think there is bound to be a stepp learning curve there from what you've said. Paths of Glory is even more complicated. A great game, but very tough to learn if you've never done any other card driven games before it.

Check out this list by Chris Farrell for lots of thoughts from various folks:

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist.php3?action=view&listi...
 
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John Buse
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Here are some considerations that may or may not matter to you.

It takes about 6 to 8 hours to finish a game of Paths of Glory, while the Wilderness War tournament scenario (1757-1759) can be completed in less than 3 hours. The Early Campaign (1755-1759) should take about 5 hours. The full campaign (1755-1762) is rarely played because it's a long, agonizing decline for the French player after 1759.

Paths of Glory uses separate decks for each player, while in Wilderness War, the players draw from a single deck. As a result, Wilderness War is fairly chaotic, while Paths of Glory has a far more controlled feeling. In Paths of Glory, the decks are built up in three stages based on a player's "war status". This means that you almost certainly will get a particular card, it's just a question of when. In Wilderness War, with a shared deck and occasional reshuffles, you may never get a card that you have been waiting for - hence some of the chaos. Managing the deck is a big part of Paths of Glory - weeding out certain cards, and playing the events that must be played. The feeling during a turn of Paths of Glory is one of a series of agonizing decisions - should I take replacements/reinforcements or mount one more offensive? In Wilderness War, my impression is more one of trying to implement a turn-long strategy, interrupted by unexpected events.

The Wilderness War rules are clear and excellent. The Paths of Glory rules are, by now, pretty refined, but they seem to have more special cases and exceptions than Wilderness War so they may appear more fiddly.

You can buy a "deluxe" map (cardstock similar to the maps used in Columbia Games) for Paths of Glory from GMT. You can preorder a similar map for Wilderness War, which really needs it given the thin paper map that came with that game.
 
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Neil Carr
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I've come from a fairly similar background in terms of wargames. I've never been a hardcore wargamer and only really started to pay attention to them around the time that I was also getting into eurogames, and so the types of wargames I've been looking for have always required some elegance. So when I came across the block games from Columbia and the card driven stuff by GMT I was eager to try them out.

I've played both WW and PoG and for myself at least I've found PoG to be such a rich and wonderful experience that I'd gladly have an incomplete game of PoG over a completed game of WW any day. It's not that WW is really problmatic, I've just found PoG to offer so much more detail and epic sweep. PoG does also have scenerios so you don't have to play the entire war and this can cut down on the time to play it. Also, despite the stalemate of attrition in the actual war, PoG details the european wide conflict and thus there is a real dynamic to the game. You aren't just having a slugfest in the fields of france, instead you're walking a tightrope between both fronts, the Balkans, Turkey and Italy. Great stuff!

As for the Columbia games, Wizard Kings does have issues from my plays with it. It's an ok game but it just isn't quite getting the fantasy feel I'd hope for in a game. East Front is the game to get from Columbia if you had to be stuck on a desert island. It's the tightest game they have in terms of rules in ratio to sweeping conflict. Both players have the opportunity to both smash and also be pummeled. There is a real nail biting element to the game. Can the germans get to Moscow is time? Can the Russians hold them back long enough for their war engine to kick in? A very satisfying game experience.

PoG and EF, played in their entirety are beyond four hours. If you stick to scenerios then you can get a game in within that time. Like I've said, even these abreviated games are worthwhile. Still, your friend might have an issue with it. In terms of shorter games I'd say try and pick up a copy of Hannibal if you can. This was the second card driven game put out and is still one of the best. Like EF, both sides have their moments in the game where they can go rampaging and so you don't have a lopsided situation where only one player gets to be the aggressor throughout the game. I also have really enjoyed Pacific Victory from Columbia. Once again, a tight game in which both players have the opportunity to hammer the other side and it also plays signifigantly quicker than something like EF.
 
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Steve H
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a couple of points:
Quote:
My wargaming experience is limited...


Quote:
I believe that their 4 hour time frame is doable.


and Admiral's re-posting of Chris' list is probably the best advice. However you mentioned WKs. Did you enjoy the block aspect of this game? There are several other wargames that utilize blocks and fog of war you might find yourself more interested in that card driven games.

If you use card driven games, I'd recommend Barbarossa to Berlin as your entry point. For block driven games, you might try Columbia's Hammer of the Scots. Good luck!
 
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Kevin Moody
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Wow! Excellent responses from people that have actually played what they recommend! Great thread.

Jason, I come at games from exactly the opposite direction of you. I'm an old grognard recently returned to the hobby, and am pursuing euros/hybrid wargames and the like.

All the advice I've read has been very sound. As you can see, there's no perfect answer.

However, given your experince, the description you've given of your opponents, and your interests, I would recommend Wilderness War.

If you like it, as I think you will (and it might take a half-dozen games before the whole CDG thing takes you over), you'll be getting Paths of Glory (kudos to the warning above about the rules...it's loaded with exemptions/restrictions, etc necessary to make it resemble actual events, even though anyone who's played it a few times will tell you that you can still drive it off course). I'd choose WWII:B2B last because it's out of print, a newer slightly-improved version (so sayeth Ted R in the CSW pages recently) will probably be out in a year or two, and many who've played them all find it the weakest (unlike the guy above, or Ted R himself, who considers it his favorite design).

The block games are a completely different pathway, and I suggest you don't consider them as competing choices!

(BTW, as with most wargames nowadays, maps are paper, and can be fragile. The glossy map for WW is a good example. Just get a poster frame from Walmart for $10 or a sheet of plexiglass from a Lowe's/Home Depot for $12 to cover your map...works great on all sorts of games like Settlers, block games, etc. I have the Deluxe map mentioned for Paths of Glory. It's nice, I'm glad I have it (along with a second copy of stapled rules that comes with it), however it's completely unnecessary.

Have fun, and g/l!
 
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Jason
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Thanks so far to all that have answered with their suggestions and advice. I had previously read a lot of Chris Farrel's including his opinions on various block games, card-driven games, and wargames in general.

However, your responses have helped point out some issues that I had missed. For example, I mistakenly thought that Wilderness War and Paths of Glory were only 3-4 each in their entirety. This misconception was actually a mistake based on the fact that in many places I had seen Hannibal and We the People discussed for their shorter playtimes, looked at the BGG database's 3 hour and 4 hour estimates for WW and PoG and WRONGLY assumed that all of the card-driven games of this type were under four hours in their entirety. I now know that WW and PoG are both longer when played out and are comparable to EE in that while the full game can take 7-8 hours or more, they have shorter scenarios included.

After previously reading Chris's lists I had decided that complexity-wise We the People and/or Hannibal were probably where to start, but I had eliminated them due to their out of print status and resultant cost.

From the descriptions provided, its starting to sound like WW may be a better choice for me between the two because of clearer rules with fewer exceptions. Additionally, the single deck chaos described by John sounds like it would create more replayability and varying situations than the 3-deck card managment description of PoG. Would I be wrong in concluding that PoG would feel more "scripted" where the use of a single deck in Wilderness War would allow more variation in games? Or am I misunderstanding?

As far as block games are concerned, Wizard Kings has not soured me on the idea. It's just that at this time it seemed to make more sense for me to pick a card-driven game as I have not tried any of them yet. Having looked at the offerings and multiple GL discussions, I think Liberty or HoTS may be where I start when I look to buy another block game.

As far as components, I was aware that the maps with these games were either paper or the thin cardboard of Wizard Kings. However, I would like to thank all those that mentioned it as a consideration as there are no doubt some reading this thread with interest who had not yet discovered that fact yet. (Until I began researching the block games and picked up WizKings last fall I was completely unaware)

Thanks to all.
 
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Kevin Moody
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Quote:
Would I be wrong in concluding that PoG would feel more "scripted" where the use of a single deck in Wilderness War would allow more variation in games? Or am I misunderstanding?


You are correct. Some find the scripted nature of PoG (and moreso with WWII:B2B) a drawback. I don't think they're a problem.

However, if you want a game that may never play the same way twice, WW might be more to your liking. I think the rules are much easier to read up on and implement than PoG (as an example, my opponent and I, who had never played one of these CDGs, opened WW and began playing the A.M. scenario within two hours...with PoG, it took a few evenings of reading the rules seperately (we wasted far too much time memorizing the restrictions), and about double the playtime to cover what would be considered a tournament game timeperiod....that's not meant as a negative against PoG, just a warning. We equally looked forward to playing both as soon as we could.)

One other thing...last time I checked the new PoG edition's rulebook hadn't been posted on GMT's Living Rules site. It adds a lot of clarifications (not too likely to come up during initial play, I think) and more restrictions. I'd recommend downloading the current living rules before they're taken down and use those first. If the game clicks with you, then go to the newer, longer ruleset. Much easier to get into that way, I think.
 
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Jonathan
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Jason,
You are in the exact same spot I was a few years ago. I too didn't care for Wizard Kings. I've tried the other maps and additional armies...they don't make it a better game. Even so, I think you might enjoy Hammer of the Scots. It doesn't play like Wizard Kings at all, and is a much sounder game. I started CDG with Hannibal, and it's still my favorite, but I've enjoyed WW the few times I've played it. I've never tried PoG, so I can't help there. Good luck!
 
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John Buse
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Quote:
I now know that WW and PoG are both longer when played out and are comparable to EE in that while the full game can take 7-8 hours or more, they have shorter scenarios included.


Right on the first count, but based on my limited experience with Europe Engulfed, the 7-8 hour estimate is quite a bit too low - I'd say more like 12-16 hours for the whole 1939-1945 campaign in Europe Engulfed. Also, the short "Annus Mirabilis" scenario in Wilderness War is really the heart of the game, not a tacked on afterthought of a campaign scenario. And that scenario really is comparable to Hannibal, We the People, and Hammer of the Scots in playing time.

Your comments, and Kevin's response, on the more scripted feeling of Paths of Glory (and Barbarossa to Berlin, which also uses separate decks) are right on. Some people like chaos, some people like scripting, so it's just a matter of taste.
 
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Chris Farrell
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I think PoG or WW would be a bit of a discontinuous jump from where you are at now. I like PoG and WW, but they are both what I think of as "grognard" games rather than hobbyist games, i.e., good games but for those seriously into wargames. They require a particular mindset. For example, my wife - who mainly just likes good games - will happily play Hannibal (and Breakout: Normandy), but both PoG and WW were totally flat. WW is also a bit complex and lacks replayability; moreso even than PoG, it's a good game to add to your collection, but perhaps not the best choice to start your collection with.

If I were to take a shot in the dark, I might point you in the direction of Rommel in the Desert or Pacific Victory. Rommel in the Desert particularly seems to appeal to eurogamers, it's got very short scenarios, is highly replayable, and Columbia will give you a money-back guarentee if you don't like it. Pacific Victory is, in essence, a much classier Axis & Allies, which I like alot except that you kinda have to fudge the victory conditions.

Obviously, I love Wizard Kings. But the gamekit nature of the game is undeniably an issue.

While I think Hammer of the Scots is a good game, to me it's a bit abstract and has nowhere near the replayability of Rommel. Others like it more, though, so YMMV. It's definitely simpler than Rommel, although not by a vast margin. You can download the rules for both.

I am a fan of GMT's games, but they are hard to cut your teeth on. They tend to be long (very long) and complicated. If the subject or concept really grabs you, you can work around that, but if you are asking the question, then you might want to work up to it.
 
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Chris Farrell
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One other thing ... EE is an awesome game too, but it is also complex, and the real game is in the longer scenarios. 42-45 takes about 8-10 hours. The whole war is probably more like 16. I'd cut your teeth on a game like Rommel or EastFront first, and work your way up. The games share a lot.
 
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David K
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With experienced play, you could probably get the campaign game of EE down to 16 hours -- but those first couple of times out, don't be surprised if it goes longer than 20 (IME).

-V
 
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Andy Ravenscroft
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Here's another perspective that hopefully builds on the previous comments. I'm a former grognard (raised on SPI and Avalon Hill) who got into German games at the end of the 80's. I've played both WW and POG.

I played Wilderness War in its playtest form and liked it a lot. Subsequently I bought the game and played it many times. It's a very fluid game in that there's no real 'front' to the battle. Things can erupt in various places around the map and if the French player is good they'll repeatedly use their native American allies to raid like crazy to disrupt the British. In this sense, it gives a good feeling of how chaotic the war must have been in some places while still having some set-piece battles on the board.

POG I played less frequently, probably five or six times. I enjoyed the strategic feel and the way you have to work to bring other nations into the war. The game felt less flexible than WW and although enjoyable it wasn't as forgiving as WW in that early mistakes in POG can cost you the game.

The key mechanic in both is easy to get, though, using cards as specific events or ways to mobilize forces and although you'll probably miss some of the rule nuances in the first plays it doesn't really matter that much and the card/counter play makes it fun. Of the two, I have a bias to WW because I like the relative mobility of the situation and the feeling of chaos.
 
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