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Subject: Strategy rss

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Chris Farrell
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OK, having now played this game a lot, the balance issues are starting to seem pretty serious. The CP are now on an impressive losing streak in my games. It seems like they often come close in the middle game, but end up crashing pretty hard late as they either run out of cards or men. Anyone have any thoughts on the balance issue? Normally I'd just say I need more experience with the game, but I'm well beyond that point now (I've played at least a dozen full campaign games). It seems to put a serious damper on what is otherwise quite a fine game.
 
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Re: User Article
Hey Chris, the CP lost WWI. It was in all the newspapers at the time and in history books since then. It stands to reason then that an historical wargame should more often than not recreat history with, in this case, the CP losing.

I understand your concerns for play balance. And play balance has long been debated by wargamers playing historic wargames. Should a game be balanced or recreate history? When we play the game we often change sides, compare results, and then determine who "won" the game. Allies won both times? Well who defeated the CP earlier?

I often like to play the "losers" of a war and see if I can "change history" (to borrow some game company's marketing slogan). With the hindsight and knowledge of the errors made by a side in a war sometimes one can be successful. But, I would not expect, or respect, a wargame where the Mexicans lose the Battle of the Alamo 50% of the time.
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Chris Farrell
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Re: User Article
I don't expect the balance to be 50-50, but I do expect both sides to have some reasonable expectation of being able to win. However, it seems that once the game is learned an experienced AP player has a tremendous advantage, one that's not overcome by a VP penalty because the CP just seems to collapse eventually. In order to win, the CP has to take risks, and it just seems like those risks always come back to haunt them. A couple of inopportune '7' results will cause the AP problems, but they can shift the focus to other theatres while the one recovers. The same thing can be catastrophic for CP, as they have only one good hand. Eventually, the Western Allies are going to inflict a couple '7's running that will put CP manpower below the critical mass necessary just to keep everything from collapsing.
 
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David K
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Re: User Article
Ken Waido wrote:
It stands to reason then that an historical wargame should more often than not recreat history with, in this case, the CP losing.


While I can somewhat understand this, I personally don't enjoy games where the outcome is already known.
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M@tthijs
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November 11, 1918 - end of WW-I
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Re: User Article
Ken Waido (#2470) wrote "It stands to reason then that an historical wargame should more often than not recreat history with, in this case, the CP losing."
I don't agree. A good historical wargame should recreate the situation as it was. Not recreate history.
Meaning: If I would make an hist.warg. about the encounter between The Hood and The Bismarck (it was the Bismarck, wasn't it?), it would be a pretty bad game when most of the times played the Bismarck would blow up the Hood within 5 minutes with a lucky shot. It's historical, but it was against all odds.
I wonder how many battles, campaigns and wars are fought were (in hindsight) the _other_ side had the odds in favor. How about the VonSchlieffen plan? The PoG-designers admitted making it (a-historical, many will argue) extra hard to carry out that plan, to prevent "the Germans a serious shot at winning in turn two". (See designer notes, pg 21 PoG rules). Decisions like this make it a game, based on WW-I instead of a simulation. And my favourite game at the moment, I must say.

my5cts,
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Chris Farrell
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Re: User Article
_Kael_ (#57961),

I thought everyone was pretty clear the Schlieffen plan really wasn't going to work except through extremely good fortune. Didn't Schlieffen himself essentially put in a note in his plan for when they got near Paris, to the effect of "5 corps magically appear here"? My recollection is hazy.

Through skill and luck, they did come close. And what you say is certainly true, if the CP did have a legitimate shot at Paris in the first turn or two, it wouldn't by much of a game (I've played people who have immolated themselves trying, though).
 
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John Richert
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Well don't forget that they did not really run the Schlieffen Plan at the beginning of WWII. The original plan called for a force ratio for the right flank and left flank of 80:1. Von Moltke changed the plan to a ratio of something like 4:1 because he was afraid of his left flank being pushed back.

In Schlieffen's Plan, the left flank was SUPPOSED to be pushed back, to draw more French troops to the area. This would weaken the forces facing the Germans along the sea, making it easier to take Paris. Von Moltke did not truly understand the Schlieffen Plan, and tried to turn it into a Cannae like plan with both flanks launching attacks.
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Scholle
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Re: User Article
Volstag (#21763),
To offset any perceived imbalance in two player wargames we've always played with a leveling system probably first encountered by us in Storm over Arnhem. We simply bid for the right to play a side in victory points. So, for example, in Storm over Arnhem I would offer the other player 2 victory points for the right to play the British. He might up the bid and offer me three VPs to play the British and I might accept that and start setting up my German pieces with 3VPs in my account on the VP track. Maybe something similiar could be adopted in Paths of Glory? Of course this really only works when both players know the game fairly well and have played the game before.
 
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Claus Braendgaard
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Re: User Article
I just started playin PoG again, on ACTS, after a break from it. I still love the game, but as per the topic in this thread, I'd be liable to agree: The CP are hard-pressed for a victory. I've never played with the bidding-system, but more and more I'm leaning that way.
Sure, I've seen CP wins, but they been very few.
How many VPs would you guys typically give to play Allies? I have no number set, but I'm figuring we're over 2-3 here.
Seems the only plausible route for the Germans is in fact to topple Paris. Russia is such a lost cause.
 
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James Pinnion
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Re: User Article
After a few plays we've given up on hoping to topple Paris, instead Germans abandon Mulhouse to dig in in Strasbourg and keep minimum troops on the western front possible (ie enough armies that even two "7" results is survivable if they take RPs enough). Last time, I didnt play GoA and ended up on an unfactored 11VPs with the possibility of playing Brest-Litovsk in Winter 1919 (unfortunately I forgot that this alters the victory conditions).

If France could be knocked out, the the game would be over then; but the game makes knocking out Russia marginally easier (if not easy).

I'd give three VPs to play the allies.
 
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Jason Johns
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(#2470),

Huh, interesting thought. The issue is not whether the CP can win (and thanks for the news...whew, wasn't sure who came out on top or "razer woo kaim owt on ze top...").

The issue is can a side still win the game (the point of playing after all) and still lose. VG Civil War does that. The South is generally going to lose by having bits munched, but still win "the game".

That's my thought on a "historical wargame".

Jason
 
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James Pinnion
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Re: User Article
Yeah, it's a bit imbalanced - the blockage card is the swinger for me (quite reasonably so). The central powers are definitely more fun to play though, as even when they have the initiative it's still a struggle. A tight allied victory always feels like the Germans deserved he win ("hey - we killed the Russians, held just about everywhere else, except maybe some small bit of Turkey . . . why didnt we win?). I keep thinking that perhaps it would be better with an extra couple of american reinforcement, and another year. The war ended because the allies had started to move forward everywhere (except Russia, of course) and more Americans were inevitable - the Germans knew they were beaten even though none of the allies had reached as far as Germany since the end of 1914.

I'd bid 2 points to take the allies, but only because I'd be hoping my opponent bid 3-4 (which is probably fairer from my experience) and I could play the central powers.
 
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Loïc Boué
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a 80:1 balance is impossible to achieve. The original Schlieffen Plan was a blueprint, not something realistic. Logistics in Belgium was already a nightmare with a 4:1 balance. There was no way Moltke could have shifted more troops there. And the French Army did mount a very serious pressure in Lorraine.
The first mistake was : to repulse and worse counterattack the french armies in Lorraine. A "Cannae" manoeuver would have been to withdraw, and lure the french armies away from the "Scythe" part, but obviouly the pride of the Kronprinz would not allow it.
The second mistake was to send those corps to the East, but not as bad as the first (the logistic was still very difficult because the Maubeuge fort was not taken).
The last mistake was the bad coordination between the 1st and 2nd armies, but, during the Marne Battle they were facing the 5th and 6th french armies, and the BEF, so they were already outmanoeuvered by Joffre masterful (and daring) general withdrawal. The German superiority in heavy artillery could have allowed them to achieve a defensive success, but they could not have taken Paris at this time.

If you want to try your hand at making the Schlieffen Plan succeed, I would recommande "Grand Illusion" by Ted Raicer (GMT games)
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Björn Hansson
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cfarrell wrote:
I don't expect the balance to be 50-50, but I do expect both sides to have some reasonable expectation of being able to win.


Why not?

The game system should always strive towards a 50-50 chance. In order to avoid losing the historical touch you need to alter the vistory conditions. Take Europe Engulfed for example. The odds of Germany conquering Russia is quite slim i.e. historically correct. However the victory conditions doesn't require the Germans to do so either.

It's the game system that needs a minor change. Perhaps should the CP always have a 2-3 VP advantage. Although I must say bidding VPs is without a doubt a superb solution to the problem.

It's a marvellous game!
 
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Eric Brosius
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I'm not sure I agree that every game should give equal chances of victory to both sides.

There are some historical situations in which one side was clearly favored, but in which the other side had a reasonable chance to win. If these situations are modeled accurately, the chances of victory aren't equal, but a win with the weaker side is "worth" more than a win with the stronger side.

For example, if you're modeling the Gettysburg campaign, you can either require the South to win an actual victory (with chances under 50%) or redefine a victory to mean escaping back across the Potomac intact after dishing out some damage. The former approach will lead to exciting (if unbalanced) games, while the latter approach will result in the south crossing into Pennsylvania, burning some towns, and then running back across the river---a result entirely unlike what actually happened. Now, you may believe the latter result would have been a better choice for Lee (hard to argue given the actual results,) but it sure doesn't make a very interesting game. If you use the former approach, you'll give the Southern player a true sense of accomplishment in the games he or she does win.
 
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Björn Hansson
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Eric Brosius wrote:
I'm not sure I agree that every game should give equal chances of victory to both sides.

There are some historical situations in which one side was clearly favored, but in which the other side had a reasonable chance to win. If these situations are modeled accurately, the chances of victory aren't equal, but a win with the weaker side is "worth" more than a win with the stronger side.


Of course you should never sacrifice the historical facts. What you need to do is alter the victory conditions so that the weaker side can win if they lose less than historically. That way they win even though they lose. Am I confusing everyone now?
 
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Johan Lundstrom
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I enjoy the solution in Totaler Krieg which separates winning the war from winning the game (with rules for both). Germany is pretty unlikely to win the war, but the rules support winning the game even when you lose the war.
 
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