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Subject: Player's Remorse rss

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Mike Szarka
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When it is your turn to send a VASSAL move, the wait is excruciating. When it's my turn, well, I've been busy.
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A lot of wargames I play for the first time leave me vaguely dissatisfied. I wonder how general that phenomenon is. For every game we try for the first time, how many disappoint us in some way? Answer the poll and feel free to comment on how and why new game experiences can disappoint (if they do).


Poll
What fraction of the new (to you) wargames that you play leave you somewhat disappointed?
What fraction of the new wargames that you play leave you somewhat disappointed?
Fewer than 25%
25-50%
50-75%
More than 75%
      155 answers
Poll created by mcszarka
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Bartow Riggs
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usrlocal wrote:
I usually research wargames before buying them, so I haven't really been disappointed with any such purchases. Stuff I'm pre-ordering blindly by P500 is a different story - I anticipate I'll have more disappointments from P500 acquisitions. Space Empires: 4X has so far proven that to be correct.


+1

Edit: Negative Waves....Always with the Negative Waves.
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Mike Szarka
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I have played a lot of games that were highly recommended that left me a bit (or a lot) cold. One issue may be that I am tending to experiment with a lot of lower-complexity games, but many of them end up leaving me somehow empty or annoyed.
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Jon
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My "problem" is that I like everything and cannot seem to be a critical thinker in this regard. At least after just one solitary play.

It usually takes at least a few plays for me to start to see the cracks if there are any.
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Enrico Viglino
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No game is perfect, so every one disappoints.

I'm sort of the opposite of Jon though,
it often takes me a couple plays to warm to
something. If I give a good first impression though,
it's seldom wrong.

Honestly, I'm the same with people too - I usually don't
like 'em, but IF I do right off, I've found my impression
is pretty good.
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p55carroll
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I'm easily disappointed, and it's partly because I'm such a dreamer that my expectations are almost always too high. I don't think I've ever played a wargame that didn't disappoint me to some small degree. They all fall short in one respect or another.

Another take on this question might be Which wargame(s) disappointed you big-time right away, to the point where you wished you hadn't bought the game?

For me, one of them was Up Front. I bought it when it was new, after having played Squad Leader and its expansions for several years. UF was billed as "The Squad Leader Card Game," and I hoped for a fun, streamlined game to play when I wasn't up for a Crescendo of Doom scenario. But the first few times I played UF, it seemed like a ridiculous game. I felt I'd been conned, and I wanted my money back. But then something clicked, and I got it; the game grew on me. By the time I'd played half a dozen times, UF had become one of my favorite games ever.

The same could be true of The Peloponnesian War, 431-404 BC. I tried playing it for the first time last year, but I only got up to turn 5 or so before I said to myself, This is no fun at all. I'm having to do all this counting and tracking and resetting things at the end of each turn--and for what? Most of the battles I set up fail for one reason or another, and even if I win I'll have to switch sides. On top of all that, I'm not even interested in this period or this war. I tried to make myself keep playing, but finally I put the game away. It's either not for me or I just haven't played enough to "get it," the way I did with Up Front.
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Enrico Viglino
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Patrick Carroll wrote:

The same could be true of The Peloponnesian War, 431-404 BC. I tried playing it for the first time last year, but I only got up to turn 5 or so before I said to myself, [i]This is no fun at all. I'm having to do all this counting and tracking and resetting things at the end of each turn--and for what? Most of the battles I set up fail for one reason or another, and even if I win I'll have to switch sides.


Oh man - THIS sounds like my kinda game.
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I think it depends on how much research you do beforehand or if you have a tendency to succumb to impulse buying or the cult of the shiny. Shiny is good but I find you can't always trust reviews for newer games because when you open the shrink wrap you are always wearing them rose tinted glasses. Sometimes it is better to let the dust settle down to have a better idea and see the flaws appear so you can make a more informed decision. Yeah I kow easier said than done.
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Mike Szarka
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When it is your turn to send a VASSAL move, the wait is excruciating. When it's my turn, well, I've been busy.
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I just checked my own ratings chart. 2/3 of the games I rate a "7" or higher apparently. Generally I rate a game a "7" if I thought it was pretty good and would be willing to play again. Games below a "7" fell short in some way. But I think my "vector" tends downward as the novelty of a new game wears off. Also I hate dissing someone's efforts so I will sometimes rate a game based on whether I think it achieved its objectives, whether or not I personally enjoyed it a lot.
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Jeff K
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mcszarka wrote:
A lot of wargames I play for the first time leave me vaguely dissatisfied. I wonder how general that phenomenon is.


Wow, this is really spot on for me. I have experienced this several times for games, some of which are extremely popular.

CC:E comes to mind as the biggest surprise in the category. After some thought, here is my take on it: I sometimes don't "grok" the game the first time around.

I felt like CC:E "played" me instead of the other way around. Turned out I was the bozo that did not know what he was doing. Of course, after I learned the game, CC became one of my favorites.

Going one step further, I have found from long experience that every time I hear "this game is broken!" in regards to a new release, I am very, very skeptical. And it happens a lot!
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Jeff K
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mcszarka wrote:
I have played a lot of games that were highly recommended that left me a bit (or a lot) cold. One issue may be that I am tending to experiment with a lot of lower-complexity games, but many of them end up leaving me somehow empty or annoyed.


The mere fact it is lower complexity does not mean that it should give you a shallow feeling. Some lower complexity games have quite deep gameplay, indeed some are quite a bit deeper than very complex games. I would not confuse complexity of game mechanics with depth of gameplay.
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Michael Lucey
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The number of games that have disappointed me while playing has gone down over the years because of this website. The number of games I do NOT play because I'm disappointed is very high though. I really research games and count on geekbuddy reviews and ratings for games. I have a laundry list of games I wanted to purchase/ play but skipped because of average to poor reviews.

With so many options now I have become very cautions with my time and money so anything I think would rate less then a 7 I'll pass on purchasing and be cautious about playing at all. I still get games that disappoint me despite the reviews, or because I pre order them, but that number is far lower then the games I am happy with once I play them. On the flip side, because of the volume of quality of games now I do find myself a little disappointed when I play a game and decide its 'just an 8' and not THE new game that deserves a 9 or 10 rating.
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Enrico Viglino
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Xookliba wrote:
mcszarka wrote:
I have played a lot of games that were highly recommended that left me a bit (or a lot) cold. One issue may be that I am tending to experiment with a lot of lower-complexity games, but many of them end up leaving me somehow empty or annoyed.


The mere fact it is lower complexity does not mean that it should give you a shallow feeling. Some lower complexity games have quite deep gameplay, indeed some are quite a bit deeper than very complex games. I would not confuse complexity of game mechanics with depth of gameplay.


Deep gameplay (whatever that means) strikes me as a term which
seldom attracts me to a game. I see people tossing that around
about euros that have almost no connection to the story told
in the game. I see that term fitting to Go. It's not what I
look for in a non-abstract. I look for a rich story - which
is possible in less complex games - but often less so if they're
too worried about things like 'deep gameplay' rather than just
telling an immersive and believable story.

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Enrico Viglino
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Scoobysnacks wrote:
The number of games that have disappointed me while playing has gone down over the years because of this website. The number of games I do NOT play because I'm disappointed is very high though. I really research games and count on geekbuddy reviews and ratings for games. I have a laundry list of games I wanted to purchase/ play but skipped because of average to poor reviews.

With so many options now I have become very cautions with my time and money so anything I think would rate less then a 7 I'll pass on purchasing and be cautious about playing at all. I still get games that disappoint me despite the reviews, or because I pre order them, but that number is far lower then the games I am happy with once I play them. On the flip side, because of the volume of quality of games now I do find myself a little disappointed when I play a game and decide its 'just an 8' and not THE new game that deserves a 9 or 10 rating.


I've found that I can't really trust others' ratings or reviews much.

A lot of the games that I like the most end up getting pretty
low numbers - and some of the things that I like in some games,
I don't in others. It's really tough to make a call, so I still
pull a fair number of disappointments.
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calandale wrote:
Xookliba wrote:
mcszarka wrote:
I have played a lot of games that were highly recommended that left me a bit (or a lot) cold. One issue may be that I am tending to experiment with a lot of lower-complexity games, but many of them end up leaving me somehow empty or annoyed.


The mere fact it is lower complexity does not mean that it should give you a shallow feeling. Some lower complexity games have quite deep gameplay, indeed some are quite a bit deeper than very complex games. I would not confuse complexity of game mechanics with depth of gameplay.


Deep gameplay (whatever that means) strikes me as a term which
seldom attracts me to a game. I see people tossing that around
about euros that have almost no connection to the story told
in the game. I see that term fitting to Go. It's not what I
look for in a non-abstract. I look for a rich story - which
is possible in less complex games - but often less so if they're
too worried about things like 'deep gameplay' rather than just
telling an immersive and believable story.



Deep gameplay is indeed a trait of Go and Chess, games which have attracted a considerable following for centuries, would that not indicate it is a desirable trait in a game?

I do not see the two aspects (story and gameplay) as mutually exclusive. In fact, I feel they are intimately intertwined. But I suppose it depends on what you are looking for in a game.

You mentioned abstract-ness in your reply. I agree that deep gameplay is a desirable quality in an abstract. Many wargames have a high degree of abstraction, some are extremely so. Bonaparte at Marengo comes to mind, and is a game with very deep gameplay, extremely engaging and tells a great story at the same time.
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calandale wrote:
Patrick Carroll wrote:

The same could be true of The Peloponnesian War, 431-404 BC. I tried playing it for the first time last year, but I only got up to turn 5 or so before I said to myself, [i]This is no fun at all. I'm having to do all this counting and tracking and resetting things at the end of each turn--and for what? Most of the battles I set up fail for one reason or another, and even if I win I'll have to switch sides.


Oh man - THIS sounds like my kinda game.


My problem with it was that it felt too easy to game the system as the Athenians by getting the Spartans to go off on a wild goose chase. The victory conditions made no sense to me either.

Back to the OP: do you mean games that I've bought and then played or just games that I've played? If the latter, then part of the disappointment is because there are certain types of games I'm not much into but play because my opponent is (e.g. WWII tactical).

Regarding buying, I've come to the point where (on the whole) I'm not going to buy any game that I haven't had the chance to try out, at least in some form: I have more games than I can really play already, so I don't need to bolster out my collection with those that are poor or even just good.
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Enrico Viglino
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Xookliba wrote:


Deep gameplay is indeed a trait of Go and Chess, games which have attracted a considerable following for centuries, would that not indicate it is a desirable trait in a game?


Depends on one's taste. I love it in Go (or Bridge). Chess has it,
but the story feels too contrived for how non-abstract it is (don't
laugh - but it's really the same issue); Go feels like a battle
developing; Bridge doesn't feel like anything but cards.

Quote:
I do not see the two aspects (story and gameplay) as mutually exclusive. In fact, I feel they are intimately intertwined. But I suppose it depends on what you are looking for in a game.


Oh, I don't either - it's just reaching for the one, especially
once there's sufficient theme, can damage the other. With wargames,
or AT, I'd prefer the story to be good to deep play.

Quote:
Many wargames have a high degree of abstraction, some are extremely so.


Once they go too far down that path, they don't feel like wargames
to me. Even Go, which I can imagine as a battlefield very well,
isn't. There's a certain level of detail in the simulation which
I think a wargame needs.
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Mike Szarka
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When it is your turn to send a VASSAL move, the wait is excruciating. When it's my turn, well, I've been busy.
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Salo sila wrote:


Back to the OP: do you mean games that I've bought and then played or just games that I've played? If the latter, then part of the disappointment is because there are certain types of games I'm not much into but play because my opponent is (e.g. WWII tactical).


If you regularly play games you don't expect to like I'm not sure anyone can help you. But I would include all wargames that you are playing for the first time.
 
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The longer you play games, the more new titles will disappoint you or simply don't interest you in the first place.

You become more sophisticated and mature as a gamer.

It's like anything else in life.

It's human nature.
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mcszarka wrote:
Salo sila wrote:


Back to the OP: do you mean games that I've bought and then played or just games that I've played? If the latter, then part of the disappointment is because there are certain types of games I'm not much into but play because my opponent is (e.g. WWII tactical).


If you regularly play games you don't expect to like I'm not sure anyone can help you. But I would include all wargames that you are playing for the first time.



I tend to buy games to play with the expectations that opponents and tastes will change.

Some games do not work with some players while with others they are brilliant.

Cannot seem to get my current group interested in much of anything beyond the Napoleonic Wars, The ACW and WW2.

One day I hope to meet someone who will play all those 30 years and 7 Years War titles I have lying around - a significant part of my horde, especially the recent titles.
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I've had a low ratio of dissapointment in new games I played...

Unfortunately I have a high (25%-50%) ratio of new games I just never got around to playing (and I suspect I may have been disappointed by them).

There is a big difference between researching all about a game and then getting the game and punching all the counters and shifting things about a bit with the rules in front of you.
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I don't know how to put a percentage on that. There's always some disappointing aspect to a game. It's never what you expected, but then your expectations were probably too high.
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Capt_S wrote:
My "problem" is that I like everything and cannot seem to be a critical thinker in this regard. At least after just one solitary play.

It usually takes at least a few plays for me to start to see the cracks if there are any.


Yup, I'm on the same page. If I like it enough to even try it the first time (especially if I buy it), I've pretty much decided in advance I'm going to like it. Heck, I'm just happy to be playing ANY game most of the time. As you said though, after a few plays the cracks may show up and I will change my mind.

It helps that I've learned what I like, and I can usually predict and avoid games I won't like based on a quality review or decription of the mechanics.
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citizen k wrote:
The longer you play games, the more new titles will disappoint you or simply don't interest you in the first place.

You become more sophisticated and mature as a gamer.

It's like anything else in life.

It's human nature.


I've never grown.

Then again....
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calandale wrote:
Xookliba wrote:
Many wargames have a high degree of abstraction, some are extremely so.

Once they go too far down that path, they don't feel like wargames
to me. Even Go, which I can imagine as a battlefield very well,
isn't. There's a certain level of detail in the simulation which
I think a wargame needs.

I agree. When I gave up ASL in 1995 or so, I did some experimenting (I had a whole closet full of wargames to experiment with, so why not?). I knew I didn't want anything nearly as complicated as ASL. Nor did I want anything as big as The Longest Day. If I could find something small and simple enough, maybe I could stick with wargaming instead of jumping ship and swimming over to computer-game land.

But all my experiments failed. I concluded that, in order to feel like a real wargame, a game needs to be either big or detailed. It needs to convey the impression of a vast undertaking (which usually calls for a big map and some game length too) or else it needs to feel like something very complex and detailed is happening. If a wargame becomes too small or simple, or too abstract, even if there's deep strategy involved it still doesn't feel like a real wargame to me. I figure I'd do just as well to play chess or go instead.

My tenuous grip on wargaming today, now that I've returned to it, is centered on Lock 'n Load. Experiments over the past three years have shown that I can still enjoy wargames as long as the rules are few enough to commit to memory (with only the occasional look-up) and the game is reasonably small and short. But the game has to include enough detail to keep my imagination hooked while I play.

As to strategic depth or tactical challenge, a little of that goes a long way for me. If I wanted a lot of it, I'd play go or chess (and sometimes I do). I'm not brilliant or studious enough to need serious mental hurdles. I don't look for that in wargames anyway.
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