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Subject: Up Front - A (authorized) sneak peek at some of the new Up Front rss

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David Janik-Jones
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Hi everyone,

As many of you know I'm an old grog who is one of a number of enthusiastic and highly knowledgeable Up Front volunteers helping Rik and Courtney get the reprint of the classic Up Front into your hands next year. (Well, the others are highly knowledgeable, I just fetch the coffee and keep bugging Courtney for an autograph on my old copy of Up Front.)

I come from a tactical WW2 tactical gaming background and having been a self-identified war gamer for 40 years (for those interested, started wargaming with my grandfather's copy of Little Wars), and also have played Up Front continuously since it's original release.

Right after the reprint was announced I said in other threads that:

"The "changes" to the game that are being worked on are to both simplify learning it, and improve the game overall but that’s about it. I can promise anyone who is considering buying the reprint that you are getting Up Front and classic hard-core enthusiasts (myself among that crowd) need not worry."

Many of the "changes" that are being introduced are exactly what I've tried to imply: simplification, polish, removal of cruft, and making the classic better. Many of these ideas you're going to see in next year's release are being originally driven by Courtney himself, and are then discussed and tested among the team with his approval to bring the best version of any "changes" to the game.

As the gabby, enthusiastic older guy, I've been allowed to introduce some of the upcoming improvements and changes that are being worked on by Courtney and the rest of the team in a new thread, and I'll try to keep on top of it and answer any questions you might have about the following topics. I will rely on some of the other team members (e.g., Todd Banister, David Muñoz de la Peña Sequedo and others) to help out as needed, in case I don't have immediate answers for you. I'll also try to answer as many questions that come up about the items below as honestly as possible, but may not be able to get too specific on some details.

So, in no particular order let me introduce some of the "changes" you'll be seeing next year:

- Decoupling Soldiers and Weapons
- Distance and Range
- Tokens, and a Bit of Tapping (tapping ... tapping?! WTH?!! wait, don't panic!)
- The Basic and Comprehensive Rulebooks

Let's start with soldiers and their weapons.

Decoupling Soldiers and Weapons
In the reprinted Up Front it's been decided to decouple soldiers and weapons. That's right, there are going to be soldier cards (previews available in other threads, done by the freaking awesome Ron Volstad) and separate weapons cards. The weapon's cards are designed to be tucked slightly more than halfway underneath a soldier card and, when pulled down a bit, will show the malfunction information.

But what about the basic scenarios? The basic scenarios you're familiar with will now specify both soldier and the standard weapon he'll be carrying. That is to say, in Scenario A, if you're playing the Germans, Sgt Diettinger will still be armed with a machine pistol, Schussel with have the LMG, Wollack and Bernhoff will still carry their bolt action rifles etc.

Why this change? One reason is that soldiers and weapons can now have independent point values, and that will allow DYO scenario designers and players much more freedom to create their own battles. Another reason is that this now eliminates the needs for weapon chits since all of the malfunction data is built onto the weapon card, and makes the game less cluttered.

Now let's move onto the next big "change": distance and range.

Distance and Range (aka "What's this RR thing?")
Another new idea being introduced in the reprint involves finally simplifying the whole idea of "Relative Range".

Groups will still start at "0" and this will be indicated by what's being called the "Distance Token". The number on this token, which can increase or decrease, represents how far a unit has moved from their starting position since the beginning of the game. "Range" (not called RR anymore) is calculated by taking the difference between the sum of two tokens and "5". For example, let's look at the following groups and Distance Tokens:

German A 1 vs. USA A 3 = 4 = Range 1
German B -1 vs. USA B 2 = 1 = Range 4
German C 3 vs. USA C -3 = 0 = Range 5

Range diminishes as two groups close in on one another until it equals 0. The farther away two groups are from one another, the greater the number.

Why? There has always been a lot of new player confusion around the idea of Relative Range. Even the term itself is an awkward one. Distance and Range simplifies this concept but retains the fundamental elegance of the original design. When users see the original RR system, others under consideration, and this one, everyone likes this one best. Close combat means being at Range 0 (as in, no distance away from each other) instead of 5. Furthermore, there is no carry over if the results are greater than 5.

Let that sink in for a few minutes while I cover Tokens, and a Bit of Tapping.

Tokens, and a Bit of Tapping
First off, let's put everyone's minds at ease ... pinned soldiers won't be tapped, they'll be flipped over just like the old version of Up Front. Whew. (P.S. The design of the new cards looks amazing, btw.)

Tokens are being minimized in terms of number and their uses cleaned up where possible. A good example is Entrenchment.

While we'll keep a few entrenchment tokens for use in open ground, the team will be introducing tapping (turning a card sideways) for entrenchment in terrains. That way, the terrain cards can have the entrenched modifiers on the left side of the card, readable when tapped, instead of needing instead of the bookkeeping and clutter involved with chits. Since the terrain cards sit out front of the (usually much wider) group of soldiers, there's no lost table space to a tapped terrain card and, to my mind anyway, better visually indicates that the terrain now provides more protection when entrenched.

The tokens are all undergoing an amazing redesign that will make them look modern yet classic, to keep up with the stunning art on the new soldier cards. (Probably shouldn't mention this but I saw an early proof from the artist the other day and wow, they look simply amazing.)

Finally, yes, there will be tapping of soldiers only who are acting as crew for a weapon and no extra (crew) marker needed on the game table. Again, a variety of reasons (markers, reminders of what they can/can't do, etc) to indicate crew members by tapping. Pvt. Beck crewing the German LMG now will be tapped to indicate this status.

Finally, the rulebooks.

The Basic and Comprehensive Rulebooks
The revised version of Up Front is getting a remarkably great set of rules, and there a number of amazing folks both writing, contributing knowledge, and editing these to ensure that the Avalon Hill legalize and errata and insensible ordering and exceptions after exceptions are a thing of the past. The new rules are going to be comprehensive, well-written, simplified into jargon-less English, ordered properly, and littered with examples of both concepts and play. I can't reveal many details but the rules are going to be given the most thorough review possible to make sure that veteran Up Front players finally have something they can be proud of, and that new players will pick them up and understand how to play the game.

With that said, there is going to be a Basic and a Comprehensive rulebook. The basic rulebook will cover the stuff new players will need to learn to get going with the game in a nice, learning format. Components, concepts, basic rules, terrain, actions, combat etc. Enough to get going and understand what Up Front is all about and why it's been so popular for nearly 30 years.

But the Comprehensive rules? Just wait. They are going to be just that, the ultimate Up Front set of rules and reference.

Still rewritten, less jargon-filled, but rich, detailed, and everything the advanced player or veteran wants, with clear links from rules to other related and supporting rules as required. So along with the detailed basic rules these will also incorporate example and errata and clarifications etc. Ordnance, AFVs, advanced terrain, miscellaneous rules etc. The key thing is the ordering, layout, and organization of these rules has been thought through in detail and it's really going to make players happy. There is an amazing amount of stuff in the comprehensive rules but finally organized in a way that makes sense ... it will be the definitive and complete Up Front set of rules.

Hopefully that's covered some of the questions around the basic changes that players have been asking about.

Let me personally conclude by saying that Rik and Courtney have rounded up some of the very best Up Front folks around to create a knowledgeable and smart team that is going to make the revised edition the best it can be. We're trying to polish the game and simplify all of the cruft around the game to make it an even better experience than the original, and I think it's going to succeed for many, many, many veteran and new players alike. I wish I could show and say more and get you folks as excited as I am about this reprint, but I'm sure that'll happen in the not-to-distant future.

Until then, feel free to get the comments and thoughts rolling into this thread about anything I've talked about above.
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John Bradshaw
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DaveyJJ wrote:
feel free to get the comments and thoughts rolling into this thread about anything I've talked about above.


I might get round to that as soon as I've cleaned up the drool from this keyboard...

Sounds awesome!
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Lehr
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Thanks for posting.

Decoupling Soldiers and Weapons

Having two of more cards on the table for each soldier sounds like a PITA. Things will be more cluttered. In the current version most soldiers only need one card for the whole scenario (i.e. they don't need a weapons chit). Also, the artwork on the card will presumably show the soldier carrying (coupled to) a specific weapon anyway.

Distance and Range

This sounds like a nice improvement although I have not thought it through the whole way. What happens if German group A is at range 1 and USA group B is at range 6? What is their range?

Tokens, and a Bit of Tapping

I'm kind of meh on tapping. I do not mind the chits; they take up very little space.

The Basic and Comprehensive Rulebooks

The updated rules sound like they could be a great improvement!
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Chris Miller
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I don't know if this is within your realm, but has any rough time frame been determined for production and delivery?
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Todd Banister
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Hey, nice job David! I had no idea that you were going to post some sneak peaks into the project. Loved it!

And yes, I'll help answer questions as well.
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Todd Banister
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MillertimeRC wrote:
I don't know if this is within your realm, but has any rough time frame been determined for production and delivery?


We are all working on the project as hard and as quickly as possible. The amount of man-hours being poured into this project is simply silly. Wonderful progress is being made on a daily basis ... but there is still a LOT to do before she is ready for release. But from what we have done so far, well, overjoyed simply doesn't even describe how excited I am.

Timeframe? I honestly wouldn't even venture to guess at this point because whatever I would say would be wrong. I know that wasn't the answer you were looking for - so I do apologize for that. But the truth is - I personally have no idea - but I'm sure Rik will post a tentative release date once we get closer to the end of the project.
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Mike Malley
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I'm with Lehr regarding the weapon cards. I'd take a chit over a second card every day of the week.
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David Janik-Jones
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MillertimeRC wrote:
I don't know if this is within your realm, but has any rough time frame been determined for production and delivery?

As Todd said, there's a lot of work being done. It's amazing to see so much have already come together in terms of the things that need doing, but there is so much to wrap up in a more final form it's almost too much for the volunteers to grasp. But the progress is really, really exciting. And the artwork? It's going to be crazy good.

The Kickstarter begins this Friday per Rik's other posting, and I've heard approximate months in 2013 punted around among the team, but anything I might offer would most likely be wrong. I'll let other's address this if they can.

Lehr wrote:
Thanks for posting.

You're welcome. Happy to spread the upcoming joy. Really hard to contain ourselves at what's going on behind the scenes, I can assure you, I only wish I could say more right now. ninja

Lehr wrote:
Having two of more cards on the table for each soldier sounds like a PITA. Things will be more cluttered. In the current version most soldiers only need one card for the whole scenario (i.e. they don't need a weapons chit). Also, the artwork on the card will presumably show the soldier carrying (coupled to) a specific weapon anyway.

If you get a malfunction, you need a chit. If a soldier dies, you need a chit when the weapon is left behind. Again, when an illustrated example get posted of how tightly the design works when the card is slipped between 2/3rds and almost fully under the soldier card, and how the weapon cards have actually been designed, it may alleviate some of the questions and concerns. And having the malfunction stats right there on the weapon card (and nicely illustrated weapons) looks and works well. Plus there's the opportunity to introduce more weapons to the game. ninja

But yeah, I can see there will be some veteran players who aren't necessarily keen, but it's not too bad in practice.

Lehr wrote:
This sounds like a nice improvement although I have not thought it through the whole way. What happens if German group A is at range 1 and USA group B is at range 6? What is their range?

Adjacent groups, right? Sum of the two tokens is 7, minus 5, Range is 2.

Lehr wrote:
I'm kind of meh on tapping. I do not mind the chits; they take up very little space.

The only soldier card that gets tapped is a weapon crew. It plays fine but I can absolutely see people being 50-50 on this change. Having seen the terrain cards I think the tapping for entrenchment does make a lot of sense. We kept the pinned soldiers being flipped at least.
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jumbit
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How about the soldiers' names? Keeping them all?

I for one would not mind getting rid of Commissar Dottski. It was a lame inside joke to begin with and Dottski isn't even a proper name.

And don't call it "tapping", call it "entrenched terrain horizontal displacement mode" or something like that. I don't want MTG or its concepts anywhere near my Up Front.
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David Janik-Jones
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jumbit wrote:
How about the soldiers' names? Keeping them all?

I for one would not mind getting rid of Commissar Dottski. It was a lame inside joke to begin with and Dottski isn't even a proper name.

And don't call it "tapping", call it "entrenched terrain horizontal displacement mode" or something like that. I don't want MTG or its concepts anywhere near my Up Front.

Ha! "EHDM". Forwarded to the team!

Yeah, the names are remaining the same, but you did see the Captain (and higher) levels of the Kickstarter campaign?
 
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Lehr
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Thank you for the reply.

DaveyJJ wrote:

If you get a malfunction, you need a chit. If a soldier dies, you need a chit when the weapon is left behind. Again, when screen shots get posted of how tightly the design works when the card is slipped between 2/3rds and almost fully under the soldier card, and how the weapon cards have actually been designed, it may alleviate some of the questions and concerns. And having the malfunction stats right there on the weapon card (and nicely illustrated weapons) looks and works well. Plus there's the opportunity to introduce more weapons to the game. ninja

But yeah, I can see there will be some veteran players who aren't necessarily keen, but it's not too bad in practice.


I am still skeptical that setting up the Americans in Patrol with 24 cards will be better than the current 12 cards.

I look forward to the "screen shots".

Edit: A thought about the term "screen shots"......a mechanic may work fine with computer play but may be cumbersome with face-to-face play with real components.
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Mike Malley
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DaveyJJ wrote:
Lehr wrote:
What happens if German group A is at range 1 and USA group B is at range 6? What is their range?

Adjacent groups, right? Sum of the two tokens is 7, minus 5, Range is 2.
So it's the difference (absolute value) instead of the sum being subtracted from 5?
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M King
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The changes sound great. I'm especially happy to hear the redo of RR. I think that was a hard thing for newbies to figure out. Can't wait to get this.
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David Janik-Jones
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caffeinehead wrote:
DaveyJJ wrote:
Lehr wrote:
This sounds like a nice improvement although I have not thought it through the whole way. What happens if German group A is at range 1 and USA group B is at range 6? What is their range?

Adjacent groups, right? Sum of the two tokens is 7, minus 5, Range is 2.
Wouldn't it be 0/-2 since you subtract the sum from 5?

It's the difference between the sum of the two Ranges and 5.
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David Janik-Jones
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Lehr wrote:
I look forward to the "screen shots".

Edit: A thought about the term "screen shots"......a mechanic may work fine with computer play but may suck with face-to-face play with real components.

I should have said "a illustrated example". I didn't mean there is a computer version, just a comped up example to show off the look. Apologies, I've also fixed it in the original context now. I hope that we can post that illustrated example, maybe in the coming few weeks, showing what I mean to better explain.

And thanks much for the feedback, btw.
 
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DaveyJJ wrote:

I should have said "a illustrated example". I didn't mean there is a computer version, just a comped up example to show off the look. Apologies, I've also fixed it in the original context now. I hope that we can post that illustrated example, maybe in the coming few weeks, showing what I mean to better explain.

And thanks much for the feedback, btw.


Understood. Thank you.
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At first the idea of changing the RR made me cringe. But I'm sure in the end it'll be for the better.

I'm an anti-tapping kind of a gamer but what you suggested does seem acceptable. Turning the crewed guy makes sense. I think sideways terrain might be visually annoying but it's not a deal breaker by any means. Have you thought about transfers? I never bothered with the transfer chit and instead just tucked the movement card under the guy that was transferring.

I guess the biggest angst I have is with the decoupling idea. Not having to dig for a malf. chit is a nice idea but this does mean more setup time. Perhaps I'm unique but I don't need more options in Up Front. I'm fine with the weapons the men came with in the original.

But overall everything sounds fantastic and I'm confident your team will not disappoint.

Here's one question I have. Is there any talk of changing up the Action Deck at all? Like more of one type of action or less of another? Changing the split action cards and which nations can use them? I do hope the cower cards will remain with a scene depicting it.



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David Muñoz de la Peña
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Great post David! There is a lot going on on this project, and I think the post covers the post important issues.

@Diploguy The action that comes with the basec game (USvsGE) deck will be exactly the same as the original deck. In addition, there will be several additional theater decks in which the terrain will differ as well as some special rules (the RNC, RPC and action distributions will remain the same in any case).

David
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David Janik-Jones
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DiploGuy wrote:
Is there any talk of changing up the Action Deck at all? Like more of one type of action or less of another? ... I do hope the cower cards will remain with a scene depicting it.


Funny coincidence that ... without saying too much, the team have just recently been discussing cower cards. (You should just see how many emails have been sent since the beginning of this project.)

As (the more handsome) David said, the math of the game involving the RNC/RPC/card distribution etc is considered sacrosanct and absolutely not being screwed with at all. Corrections to data are being made where errata and known misprints require it, but numbers and distributions etc aren't being modified, no.
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Todd Banister
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ldsdbomber wrote:

I honestly don't quite get what's changed here, apart from removing the name "relative range" which made perfect sense anyway IMO


The big/important change here is in using the new formula, the Range when groups are far away is now 5 and Close Combat can occur at Range 0.

This was always one of the things that confused newbies learning the old system. "So we start out at Relative Range 0 to each other and when we get close to each other, we are at Range 5?" Yep. Once you learned the old system, it became second nature and you don't think about it. But from a newbie's point of view, the numbers were always backwards (at least from a logical point of view).
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toddbanister wrote:
ldsdbomber wrote:

I honestly don't quite get what's changed here, apart from removing the name "relative range" which made perfect sense anyway IMO


The big/important change here is in using the new formula, the Range when groups are far away is now 5 and Close Combat can occur at Range 0.

This was always one of the things that confused newbies learning the old system. "So we start out at Relative Range 0 to each other and when we get close to each other, we are at Range 5?" Yep. Once you learned the old system, it became second nature and you don't think about it. But from a newbie's point of view, the numbers were always backwards (at least from a logical point of view).


So does this mean that if someone buys the new base game and plays say, the Germans, and I want to use my original French against him in a game, that the two would be incompatable or at least very bothersome to use because the entire distance mechanic has been changed for no real gain except to ensure that we all have to own the new edition to combine parts that not both of us own?
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Todd Banister
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stevecorby wrote:

So does this mean that if someone buys the new base game and plays say, the Germans, and I want to use my original French against him in a game, that the two would be incompatable or at least very bothersome to use because the entire distance mechanic has been changed for no real gain except to ensure that we all have to own the new edition to combine parts that not both of us own?


Incompatible? Hardly. Could you use your original French vs. the new Germans? Absolutely. The only thing off the top of my head here that you would have to do is just reverse your order when looking at your RR numbers. Thus when firing your French at the Germans at Range 0 using the new edition, you would actually get the values off of your RR 5 column instead. To me, that isn't even "very bothersome" at all. And considering that there are other games that are essentially completely incompatible (or at least a lot more intrusive) between versions, I'll take this minor change any day.

And when you say "the entire distance mechanic has been changed for no real gain except to ensure that we all have to own the new edition to combine parts that not both of us own" - it makes it seem like we changed the Range system just so that you had to buy the new edition. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
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Roger Hobden
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Very encouraging information, all and all.
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Quote:
finally simplifying the whole idea of "Relative Range".


You are fooling yourself here. The proof is the more complex calculation. Your claim to the contrary is more proof. For newbies who languish in that state forever, rather than two minutes, put a board on Geek and let them move markers on it.
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Mark J
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aforandy wrote:
Quote:
finally simplifying the whole idea of "Relative Range".


You are fooling yourself here. The proof is the more complex calculation...


The current system you have to add the two numbers to get the range from the enemy. The new system does the same thing but makes you think of it from 5 instead of from 0.

So instead of thinking, "I'm at 2, he's at 1, 3+0 is 3 so we're 2 away from being in CC range of 5," You're thinking "I'm at 2, he's at 1, 5-3 is 2 so we're 2 away from being in CC range of 0. I fail to see the complexity.

Although I could be wrong if I interpreted the change incorrectly.
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