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Subject: If you happen to see a copy for sale, buy it! Here's why.... rss

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Moshe Callen
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1. Introduction


Before starting, let me note that a later edition of this game exists, but one can find used copies of this gem about. The second edition incorporates (as I understand) some expansions from this set and adds another player. Most importantly it makes changes to the game based on the perception that this game is unbalanced. While that view has some basis, I personally would regard it as both correct and incorrect to a degree but more the latter.

I don't recall exactly when I got this game, but from my comments I still considered myself a newbie at the game in 2009. Probably that means I bought it along with a few other games back in late 2008. Since then I've not played as often as I would like but I think I've gotten a good feel for the game.

Frankly, I've never read the books on which the game is based and don't think it sounds like my sort of book. For that matter, I've not seen the TV version either; if nothing else, I don't have a TV. Besides, what I've heard of the TV series doesn't make it sound any more my sort of thing than the books. The point is that one can enjoy the game entirely without knowing nor caring about the books or TV series. Simply I take the premise that in this fantasy world called Westeros, the king has died without an undisputed heir and five factions associated with noble houses are contending for the kingship. Such situations have occurred so often throughout history that appreciating what's going on as background to the game won't be an issue.

What particularly strikes me about this game is that although it's packaged like a wargame-euro fusion (i.e., a waro) in reality the many games that appear to have influenced this design are not eurogames; this set just happens to use meeples. The most obvious influence on the game is Diplomacy, although the degree of similarity between the two games is in my experience nearly always overstated. A less obvious inspiration for the workings of the game lies in Dune. By no means am I suggesting that anything untoward happened like "stealing from one or the other game; rather, good games like good literature influence those works which come later. In terms of creativity, I favor the ancient Greek view whereby the essence of originality lies not in generating something completely unfamiliar (and hence as often as not uninteresting to some degree) but in taking the familiar and presenting it in a novel and interesting manner. This game, as a game, succeeds in that respect marvelously.

My only caveat would be that the artwork both in the rulebook and on the cards shows a good few women characters in low cut dresses. So if you game group includes someone who will be offended by this kind of artwork in a game (e.g., for religious or political reasons) bear that in mind. The vast majority of people won't think twice about this artwork but if you are or someone who you game with is the sort of person to get worked up about such things, just stick some post-it notes in a few strategic places in the rule book or on cards and move on.

2. Rules overview and components

Quote:
As usual with copyrighted games, I'm only going to include enough of the rules to enable one to follow the discussion below.

The game is intended for a full complement of 5 players, although 3 or 4 can also play. The set-up can be seen below.

The game comes with cards which not only help with set-up for each player but also allow for random selection of houses and related colors.

Each player has three types of meeples representing footmen, knights and ships, although why the ship in this image is standing on its stern with the bow upward I've no idea.
One can then see the colors here

Battles are conducted via a combination of units in the area (with knights double the value of footmen) and cards. Each player has a small deck associated with his house and color and in any battle, the player chooses which card to use.

The decks are each different but comparable. The cards have a combat strength represented by a number and possibly a special ability or a strength in causing or preventing casualties. These are respectively either written at the bottom of the card or symbolized there by swords or towers.

Actual gameplay proceeds in rounds (called game turns) consisting of three phases. In all but the first round, one card is turned over in each of three numbered decks in each, with each resolved before the next.

These cards sometimes do nothing but most often they change the dynamics of the game. At the very least they restrict what types of orders can be given in a round. Sometimes they cause players to re-evaluate their ability to supply armies in the field or fleets of ships and so how many armies (or ships) and of what sizes the player can have. Other times these cards cause players to bid for player order on three tracks.
These tokens give the top-ranked player on the associated track a special ability, and order on the associated track also dictates turn order, who wins ties in battle and how many of the starred more powerful order tokens a player can use in a game-turn.
All three tracks are bid for in power tokens but these tokens also act as control markers which allow a player to retain possession of an area where the player has no units. Yet at the same time, if a Wildling attack occurs, power tokens are used to fight it off. If players fail to defeat the Wildlings, everyone loses units and the player who committed the least power tokens to the efforts loses twice as many units.
The special abilities represented by the tokens can be extremely useful: one decides all ties other than battle strength, one adds one to battle strength after these are revealed and one changes an order after all orders are revealed.

In the next phase, players decide what orders to assign the units in each area. At this point in the game turn, negotiations among players should be going on but nothing said or promised is binding. Each player has two tokens each that are always available for the five types of orders that units can be given. Then a more powerful token of each order type is starred and a player can play from none to three of these defending on his position on the associated track.

Once the order tokens are all secretly assigned, they are revealed simultaneously. Then each of the types of orders are resolved as follows. There are three classes of orders: raid, move/attack (with which support and defend are associated) and consolidate power (which gets a player move power tokens). In turn order each player resolving one order at a time, players decide how exactly o implement each of their order tokens on the board. First all raid tokens are dealt with in this manner; these remove other order tokens but only for support, consolidate power or other raid tokens. Then in the same manner move (i.e., attack) tokens are implemented. Only one battle can result from each such token and support and defend tokens come into play in th case of battles. Each of these (including the move tokens) modifies the army's combat strength. Battles are resolved as mentioned above before the next move token is addressed. Although normally a unit can only be moved to an adjacent area, units previously moved into an area are moved again if that area has a move order token to resolve. Additionally, ships can transport one unit each and chains of a player's own ships can transport his units any distance.

Finally from any remaining consolidate power order token on the board, players collect power tokens. Just as barrel symbols on the areas of the board represent each area's contribution to a player's supply, similarly crown symbols on the board gain a payer an extra power token (or in one case two) when a consolidate power order token is played in the area.

The game is won by control of cities and strongholds, which also dictate how many new units a player can build when a muster card is revealed during the first part of a game turn. In principle, a player wins by controlling the most cities and/or strongholds at the end of game turn ten, but any player can win instantly by controlling seven cities and/or strongholds.

Three neutral forces start on the board as well but do not attack. House cards are not used against neutral forces. Each area controlled by a neutral force initially is highly valuable in terms of supply, power tokens and/or strongholds.

3. Gameplay

Th first point to address is the oft repeated but ridiculous dogma that one must play with some expansion or other to balance the game. The kernel of truth in this view lies in the fact that if all players play "every man for himself" style, then yellow (who starts out holding the throne) will almost certainly win. Player's units, supply and number of cities and strongholds starts out remarkably balanced, but more cities and strongholds are within easy reach of yellow's forces than that of other players. This situation is not an imperfection in the game. Rather, the four other players (white, red, black and green) must form shifting alliances in order to unseat the reigning king.

Fixed alliances don't work because yellow has the strongest tactical position, then white, then green, then black and finally red, although the last three can be debated slightly. Players do not want to so help an ally that the ally ends up winning. Yet when turning on an ally one must pick the right moment because other players will likely still have orders to resolve that game turn. Yellow does have more cities and strongholds (including the independent forces' areas) because that player will almost certainly be odd man out in the sense that for much of the game the yellow player will have to go it alone-- unless he can persuade other players that he is not in fact too powerful.

Added to this political tension is a strong streak of resource management. Order tokens are limited. House cards vary in strength and so a player who uses up all his cards will only have weak cards until the deck is exhausted. Power tokens are needed for auctions and to make units on the board available to move.

To play this game well, one has to wisely use one's resources, persuade allies and cannily time one's attacks and betrayals. Does one support one of the adjacent contending armies and if so which? Which move order should be resolved first? What should one bid?

Many games aim at a trifecta of politics, combat and economics. Very few achieve the aim as well as this game does. Too many games with a political aspect can be played virtually ignoring in practice the political aspect of the game-- not this one. Nothing in the game is called money but supply and demand weigh heavily on each resource and in each bid. Each each unit type is limited in amount available.

As the title says, if one sees a copy of this game on sale (presumably used at this stage) one is well advised to buy it and play it.
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Kris Van Beurden
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Re: If you see an old copy for sale, get this one! Here's why....
The only thing from the expansion(s) I really find necessary are the Ports. Losing a sea zone next to your home is otherwise too harsh. Haven't used anything else from the expansions (besides House Martell).
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Re: If you see an old copy for sale, get this one! Here's why....
So why should one get the 1st edition of this game? Because second ed. is more balanced?

There are always people who say they prefer the older edition, but that statement is seldom justified.
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Re: If you see an old copy for sale, get this one! Here's why....
Jux_ wrote:
So why should one get the 1st edition of this game? Because second ed. is more balanced?

There are always people who say they prefer the older edition, but that statement is seldom justified.

've not played the second edition and so cannot really compare the two but simply put, this edition is the one that actually made the game a classic.

More generally, as for being "seldom justified" that's simply nonsensical. The original A&A is a far better game than the Revised. TI1 or TI2 are for a wargamer far better games than TI3. Newer does not imply better.

If you're going to buy a classic game, you may as well buy the version that is in fact classic.
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whac3 wrote:
Th first point to address is the oft repeated but ridiculous dogma that one must play with some expansion or other to balance the game. The kernel of truth in this view lies in the fact that if all players play "every man for himself" style, then yellow (who starts out holding the throne) will almost certainly win.

Hold on. While it is true that imbalance is commonly cited as a problem with the first edition of A Game of Thrones: the Boardgame, it doesn't take much reading of these forums to learn that the more common and far more intractable balance problem does not relate to Baratheon's (yellow's) superior chances of victory, but to Lannister's (red's) grossly inferior position. While records of conversations concerning this in other forums are hard to come across (the relevant Yahoo group being long gone and FFG's forums having crashed with data loss several times) I think others familiar with the history of this game will agree with me when I say that this was the more dominant concern elsewhere too.

For those not familiar with this concern, let me add that for many players the real issue isn't that Lannister cannot win, but that Lannister really has no options other than to defend and hope that his opponents make blunders. This lack of opportunity to even participate fully makes Lannister much less fun to play, and a lack of fun is much worse than poor chances to win. Furthermore, some have observed that this problem get worse as a group gets better at the game - as they become less likely to make blunders that might let Lannister into the game - not better.

Now, it's concieveable you could present an argument against this being such a problem, but here you haven't done so. This review shows an apparent lack of awareness that this problem even exists, a thought that an argument against Baratheon dominance puts paid to balance concerns. It doesn't. It addresses a relatively minor concern instead.

In addition, the more commonly-cited "must-use" optional rule from the expansions is not primarily intended to address either the Lannister or the Baratheon balance concerns. That option is ports, and what it addresses is the near-complete inability for a house that loses its ships to rebuild ships and compete for sea areas. (Note that the problem is not that rebuilding is difficult, but that it is often literally impossible, and the lack of even the possibility deprives the game of much strategic richness.)

Again, it may not be impossible to argue against these objections, but this review does not do that. Instead it calls the objections "ridiculous dogma" while misstating what the common "dogma" is.
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Re: If you see an old copy for sale, get this one! Here's why....
Wraith wrote:
whac3 wrote:
Th first point to address is the oft repeated but ridiculous dogma that one must play with some expansion or other to balance the game. The kernel of truth in this view lies in the fact that if all players play "every man for himself" style, then yellow (who starts out holding the throne) will almost certainly win.

Hold on. While it is true that imbalance is commonly cited as a problem with the first edition of A Game of Thrones: the Boardgame, it doesn't take much reading of these forums to learn that the more common and far more intractable balance problem does not relate to Baratheon's (yellow's) superior chances of victory, but to Lannister's (red's) grossly inferior position. While records of conversations concerning this in other forums are hard to come across (the relevant Yahoo group being long gone and FFG's forums having crashed with data loss several times) I think others familiar with the history of this game will agree with me when I say that this was the more dominant concern elsewhere too.

For those not familiar with this concern, let me add that for many players the real issue isn't that Lannister cannot win, but that Lannister really has no options other than to defend and hope that his opponents make blunders. This lack of opportunity to even participate fully makes Lannister much less fun to play, and a lack of fun is much worse than poor chances to win. Furthermore, some have observed that this problem get worse as a group gets better at the game - as they become less likely to make blunders that might let Lannister into the game - not better.

Now, it's concieveable you could present an argument against this being such a problem, but here you haven't done so. This review shows an apparent lack of awareness that this problem even exists, a thought that an argument against Baratheon dominance puts paid to balance concerns. It doesn't. It addresses a relatively minor concern instead.

In addition, the more commonly-cited "must-use" optional rule from the expansions is not primarily intended to address either the Lannister or the Baratheon balance concerns. That option is ports, and what it addresses is the near-complete inability for a house that loses its ships to rebuild ships and compete for sea areas. (Note that the problem is not that rebuilding is difficult, but that it is often literally impossible, and the lack of even the possibility deprives the game of much strategic richness.)

Again, it may not be impossible to argue against these objections, but this review does not do that. Instead it calls the objections "ridiculous dogma" while misstating what the common "dogma" is.

Fair enough. I chose not to go into that.

Yet the response stands. Namely, this game depends on inter-player negotiation. First, red starts out with a supply, number of cities and strongholds and units comparable to everyone else. What puts red at a disadvantage is that red can be attacked on all sides in a way the other players cannot. Therefore red has to negotiate and make alliances more than do the other players.

The flaw in this imbalance argument is that it discounts the forming of alliances. Red is in the position least likely to pull off an uto-win and so he has the strongest case for being able to work with other players. Every player in the game has advantages and disadvantages. Red needs to be the guy who can sell you a used car you know is bad.
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Well observed Mr Hall

you really need the ports, otherwise if Stark has his/her fleets sunk by either Greyjoy or Baratheon he/she is probably buggered.

Lannister is some what easier to play in the newer edition, but still hard due to the central position. The presence of the 6th side takes some pressure off from the south though.

I was never really aware of the Baratheon dominance in either game. Yeah they start next to Kings Landing, but if they take it straight away this, in my group, always leads to a get baratheon scenario. They also have the most neighbours, so can potentially have 4 of the other 5 players attacking them on the 2nd turn of the game.
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DukeofChutney wrote:
Well observed Mr Hall

you really need the ports, otherwise if Stark has his/her fleets sunk by either Greyjoy or Baratheon he/she is probably buggered.

Lannister is some what easier to play in the newer edition, but still hard due to the central position. The presence of the 6th side takes some pressure off from the south though.

I was never really aware of the Baratheon dominance in either game. Yeah they start next to Kings Landing, but if they take it straight away this, in my group, always leads to a get baratheon scenario. They also have the most neighbours, so can potentially have 4 of the other 5 players attacking them on the 2nd turn of the game.

Who said anything about doing it first? In the last game I played, yellow got the five cities and strongholds quietly and then grabbed two independents with two march orders before anyone could realistically do anything about it.
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Re: If you see an old copy for sale, get this one! Here's why....
whac3 wrote:
Yet the response stands. Namely, this game depends on inter-player negotiation. First, red starts out with a supply, number of cities and strongholds and units comparable to everyone else. What puts red at a disadvantage is that red can be attacked on all sides in a way the other players cannot. Therefore red has to negotiate and make alliances more than do the other players.

The flaw in this imbalance argument is that it discounts the forming of alliances. Red is in the position least likely to pull off an uto-win and so he has the strongest case for being able to work with other players. Every player in the game has advantages and disadvantages. Red needs to be the guy who can sell you a used car you know is bad.


In other words, Lannister has to try harder. In other words, that's what's called imbalance.

On the other hand, it's not like it's gotten better in the 2nd edition, probably rather the other way around.
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Re: If you see an old copy for sale, get this one! Here's why....
Seli_L wrote:
whac3 wrote:
Yet the response stands. Namely, this game depends on inter-player negotiation. First, red starts out with a supply, number of cities and strongholds and units comparable to everyone else. What puts red at a disadvantage is that red can be attacked on all sides in a way the other players cannot. Therefore red has to negotiate and make alliances more than do the other players.

The flaw in this imbalance argument is that it discounts the forming of alliances. Red is in the position least likely to pull off an uto-win and so he has the strongest case for being able to work with other players. Every player in the game has advantages and disadvantages. Red needs to be the guy who can sell you a used car you know is bad.


In other words, Lannister has to try harder. In other words, that's what's called imbalance.

On the other hand, it's not like it's gotten better in the 2nd edition, probably rather the other way around.

No, not at all. That's the point you're missing. Lannister has to use different types of tactics.

EIT:
What I'm contending is that the game is purposely assymmetrical, not imbalanced. There's a big difference.
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whac3 wrote:
Fair enough. I chose not to go into that.

If it was a choice, then you chose to misrepresent the arguments previously put forward concerning balance problems with the game.

whac3 wrote:
The flaw in this imbalance argument is that it discounts the forming of alliances.

Unfortunately, it turns out that the inclusion of a diplomatic element in a game does not automatically alleviate all issues of balance. It is quite possible to make a game unbalanced enough that diplomacy is not enough - in fact, A Game of Thrones provides such an example, for even if the later printings of the first edition can be argued by some (such as you, Mr Callen) to not be problematic in this regard, the first version published had such a problem with Lannister balance that the designers were forced to change it in later printings. (After fans worked out the necessary change, BTW.)

In fact the fan-base has been well aware of the diplomatic aspect of this game, and yet it is widely considered to have a problem in this regard (even in later printings) despite that diplomatic aspect. Note that nobody claims that diplomacy makes no difference, just that diplomacy diesn't make enough of a difference.

whac3 wrote:
Red is in the position least likely to pull off an uto-win and so he has the strongest case for being able to work with other players. Every player in the game has advantages and disadvantages. Red needs to be the guy who can sell you a used car you know is bad.

Right, the old argument that being in by far the weakest position with no benefits offsetting that is actually an advantage because others will regard you as weak and thus, for some reason, make mistakes when dealing with you. Really, how likely does that sound?

Bamboozling someone from Lannister's position means talking them into a blunder. Blunders do happen, of course, but as players improve they become much less likely. A Lannister relying on such trickery can easily be stymied by opponents who are just plain reasonably good at the game.

I believe I did mention that the problems have been observed to get worse with better players, didn't I? This is precisely why.

AGoT had enough complexity that many groups can go a few games without these issues really biting them, but it certainly warrants at least something of a warning concerning these issues, not complete dismissal of them. A lot of fans spent years trying to salvage this game because they loved it despite the flaws, but many admitted defeat until the second edition came along.

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Re: If you see an old copy for sale, get this one! Here's why....
Wraith wrote:
whac3 wrote:
Fair enough. I chose not to go into that.

If it was a choice, then you chose to misrepresent the arguments previously put forward concerning balance problems with the game.

whac3 wrote:
The flaw in this imbalance argument is that it discounts the forming of alliances.

Unfortunately, it turns out that the inclusion of a diplomatic element in a game does not automatically alleviate all issues of balance. It is quite possible to make a game unbalanced enough that diplomacy is not enough - in fact, A Game of Thrones provides such an example, for even if the later printings of the first edition can be argued by some (such as you, Mr Callen) to not be problematic in this regard, the first version published had such a problem with Lannister balance that the designers were forced to change it in later printings. (After fans worked out the necessary change, BTW.)

In fact the fan-base has been well aware of the diplomatic aspect of this game, and yet it is widely considered to have a problem in this regard (even in later printings) despite that diplomatic aspect. Note that nobody claims that diplomacy makes no difference, just that diplomacy diesn't make enough of a difference.

whac3 wrote:
Red is in the position least likely to pull off an uto-win and so he has the strongest case for being able to work with other players. Every player in the game has advantages and disadvantages. Red needs to be the guy who can sell you a used car you know is bad.

Right, the old argument that being in by far the weakest position with no benefits offsetting that is actually an advantage because others will regard you as weak and thus, for some reason, make mistakes when dealing with you. Really, how likely does that sound?

Bamboozling someone from Lannister's position means talking them into a blunder. Blunders do happen, of course, but as players improve they become much less likely. A Lannister relying on such trickery can easily be stymied by opponents who are just plain reasonably good at the game.

I believe I did mention that the problems have been observed to get worse with better players, didn't I? This is precisely why.

AGoT had enough complexity that many groups can go a few games without these issues really biting them, but it certainly warrants at least something of a warning concerning these issues, not complete dismissal of them. A lot of fans spent years trying to salvage this game because they loved it despite the flaws, but many admitted defeat until the second edition came along.


I see your point of view and there is some basis to it but overall I still think you grossly overstate the case. Still, we should agree to disagree; we're simply not going to convince each other.

Thank you for concisely presenting the counter-arguments so readers of the review can make up their own minds.
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Re: If you see an old copy for sale, get this one! Here's why....
whac3 wrote:
Jux_ wrote:
So why should one get the 1st edition of this game? Because second ed. is more balanced?

There are always people who say they prefer the older edition, but that statement is seldom justified.

've not played the second edition and so cannot really compare the two but simply put, this edition is the one that actually made the game a classic.

More generally, as for being "seldom justified" that's simply nonsensical. The original A&A is a far better game than the Revised. TI1 or TI2 are for a wargamer far better games than TI3. Newer does not imply better.

If you're going to buy a classic game, you may as well buy the version that is in fact classic.

Older doesn't imply better either. But you haven't played the second edition but recommend the first anyway, just because it's the first? surprise

You're right, that is put simply.
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Re: If you see an old copy for sale, get this one! Here's why....
curtc wrote:
whac3 wrote:
Jux_ wrote:
So why should one get the 1st edition of this game? Because second ed. is more balanced?

There are always people who say they prefer the older edition, but that statement is seldom justified.

've not played the second edition and so cannot really compare the two but simply put, this edition is the one that actually made the game a classic.

More generally, as for being "seldom justified" that's simply nonsensical. The original A&A is a far better game than the Revised. TI1 or TI2 are for a wargamer far better games than TI3. Newer does not imply better.

If you're going to buy a classic game, you may as well buy the version that is in fact classic.

Older doesn't imply better either. But you haven't played the second edition but recommend the first anyway, just because it's the first? surprise

You're right, that is put simply.

I recommended the first as a good game; I've said nothing about nor certainly against the second.

What I did say was that this edition is the one that made the game classic.
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Re: If you see an old copy for sale, get this one! Here's why....
Quote:
If you see an old copy for sale, get this one! Here's why....

You're explicitly recommending players get the "old" version, but you never say why they should get this one over the "new" version, even though you say "here's why" in the title.

Is this an example of misdirection? Clearly you are aware that there is a newer version of the game on the market.

If that's not your intention, perhaps you should adjust your title to clarify your meaning.
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Re: If you see an old copy for sale, get this one! Here's why....
out4blood wrote:
Quote:
If you see an old copy for sale, get this one! Here's why....

You're explicitly recommending players get the "old" version, but you never say why they should get this one over the "new" version, even though you say "here's why" in the title.

Is this an example of misdirection? Clearly you are aware that there is a newer version of the game on the market.

If that's not your intention, perhaps you should adjust your title to clarify your meaning.

No, one more time. I'm saying if they see a used copy of this, they should buy it. Why does that immediately imply anything about the new edition?

I own various editions of A&A games and recommend people buy used copies of the original of that too. I'm not saying don't buy the latest version.
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Re: If you see an old copy for sale, get this one! Here's why....
Yes, as Tim is saying, when I clicked the link I thought you were going to primarily compare the two versions. The "get this one!" is misleading.
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Re: If you see an old copy for sale, get this one! Here's why....
charlest wrote:
Yes, as Tim is saying, when I clicked the link I thought you were going to primarily compare the two versions. The "get this one!" is misleading.

That would never have occurred to me as a way to take it. I'll change the title then.
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Re: If you happen to see an old copy for sale, buy it! Here's why....
whac3 wrote:
out4blood wrote:
Quote:
If you see an old copy for sale, get this one! Here's why....

You're explicitly recommending players get the "old" version, but you never say why they should get this one over the "new" version, even though you say "here's why" in the title.

Is this an example of misdirection? Clearly you are aware that there is a newer version of the game on the market.

If that's not your intention, perhaps you should adjust your title to clarify your meaning.

No, one more time. I'm saying if they see a used copy of this, they should buy it. Why does that immediately imply anything about the new edition?

No, you said buy an "old copy." Because you used "old" in your title. It immediately and automatically conjures contrast with "new". If you had just said, "Buy a copy of this great classic," there'd be little disappointment with your review. Instead you say we should buy an old copy, when 90+% of the copies on the current market are new copies of the second edition.
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out4blood wrote:
whac3 wrote:
out4blood wrote:
Quote:
If you see an old copy for sale, get this one! Here's why....

You're explicitly recommending players get the "old" version, but you never say why they should get this one over the "new" version, even though you say "here's why" in the title.

Is this an example of misdirection? Clearly you are aware that there is a newer version of the game on the market.

If that's not your intention, perhaps you should adjust your title to clarify your meaning.

No, one more time. I'm saying if they see a used copy of this, they should buy it. Why does that immediately imply anything about the new edition?

No, you said buy an "old copy." Because you used "old" in your title. It immediately and automatically conjures contrast with "new". If you had just said, "Buy a copy of this great classic," there'd be little disappointment with your review. Instead you say we should buy an old copy, when 90+% of the copies on the current market are new copies of the second edition.

I hope the change I just made avoids confusion.
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whac3 wrote:
I've said nothing about nor certainly against the second.

That's the problem.

Both the beginning and the end of the review still sound like a preference and/or endorsement of the first edition over the second. But whatever. It's not a big deal.
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I am not a big fan of the game, I own and I've played the 1st edition 5-6 times, read the rules but never tried the new one.

I am befuddled, nonetheless, by the assumption that, if there was an unbalance in power, this implies no unbalance in the game, but simply a need for a different tactic. This principle, simply put, would justify ANY unbalance in more or less ANY game involving direct player conflict, and even some without such a directness.

No matter how much diplomacy is involved, there are often ways to strike one opponent harder than another, thus making "strike the strongest" a viable tactic, but this is far from automatically solving any balance issues because, well, since you are the weakest you will be in a better position to make friends.

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geki wrote:
I am not a big fan of the game, I own and I've played the 1st edition 5-6 times, read the rules but never tried the new one.

I am befuddled, nonetheless, by the assumption that, if there was an unbalance in power, this implies no unbalance in the game, but simply a need for a different tactic. This principle, simply put, would justify ANY unbalance in more or less ANY game involving direct player conflict, and even some without such a directness.

No matter how much diplomacy is involved, there are often ways to strike one opponent harder than another, thus making "strike the strongest" a viable tactic, but this is far from automatically solving any balance issues because, well, since you are the weakest you will be in a better position to make friends.

Geki

You're right, up to a point, as I think the other fellow arguing is right up to a point, but unless you have a completely symmetric game, such as something like chess, which even then will have minor imbalances like game momentum, the balance is never going to be exactly equal. The key question is whether the degree of imbalance is within an acceptable range, which is inherently subjective. While I see the point you and the poster above are making, I disagree that the degree of starting advantages and disadvantages are extreme enough to constitute genuine imbalance.
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whac3 wrote:
While I see the point you and the poster above are making, I disagree that the degree of starting advantages and disadvantages are extreme enough to constitute genuine imbalance.


Just to be clear, I have no particularly strong opinion about whether the game is unbalanced or not. I played a few games, as I said, so I am not at all an expert. The problem with my friends and me were the apparently limited choices we felt we had each turn.

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For what it's worth, Diplomacy, which this designer was clearly familiar with, is also imbalanced to a great degree and still worth playing, even when you draw Austria-Hungary. (Which, by odd coincidence is also played with the red pieces)

Theme and balance have difficulty coexisting. The more rigidly you stick to theme the harder it is to keep balance, and the more you try to balance the more the theme starts to feel "tacked on". I'm not bothered by imbalance as long as I think I'll be playing the game more than once.

So I agree with the OP when he says that balance isn't necessary for a game to be good. I also agree with his point that a first edition that's good enough to be called a "classic" is almost certain to be good on it's own while later editions not necessarily so. Yeah, I'm looking at you Talisman 3. Lastly I agree with all the others who say that in this case, second edition is better.

Perhaps a better title would have been, "If you want this game but can only find the first edition, buy it anyway, here's why..."
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