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Subject: This Game is Hard, Players need Help rss

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Nick Case
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My first game of this had the plug pulled after 2.5 hours when only 3 decades had been played. The reason for this was that we struggled with the rules, we got many wrong, there was significant back tracking and a lot of AP. It really wasn't enjoyable but I did think there was a good game there, I just needed better preparation.

So I re-digested the rules, made up a player aid, had it vetted and corrected by Vital and before game 2 I made myself comfortable with the mechanic. I was alot more confident, especially seeing how the three players I was teaching this to were all hard core euro games with over 100 years gaming experience between us. What could go wrong?

Well the reaction post game wasn't totally negative but wasn't gushing either. There has been an e-mail autopsy and I cut and paste the general feedback;

The difficulty with this game last night was that there is such a wide raft of things to consider for your turn that you are substantially absorbed in your own thoughts and find yourself paying scant regard to what others are up to a lot of the time. For a first outing it is quite a daunting challenge and I think mistakes are inevitable. Perhaps I should have noticed that actions weren’t being taken but I didn’t, just like I didn’t see cubes weren’t being cashed in for UN cards, but I think you would end up sectioned if you intimately policed everyone’s turn before your own. Also to my embarrassment some rules were rising to the surface that I had misinterpreted in the first outing or plain missed. I’d picked up on the crane being the trigger to allow plants to be built on the expertise track but the idea that you needed a number of squares progression on these tracks equal to the cubes required passed me by. I’m still fizzing over the do’s and don’t of the CEPs.

There needs to be more assistance and better iconography on the board and cards. Year dates should be on the power plant spaces so you can see at a glance if the current decade is empty. If you are going to appreciate tech cube requirement to build properly, the crane icon on the expertise track needs to span the required squares, this could be greyed out or have cranes at both ends with a connecting arrow. The cards need better icons to differentiate between obtain a new scientist (like it is on the board) and MOVE a scientist on the Lobby cards. The market needs text or icons to remind you when the price goes up or down and when CEPs are taken from the market or bank. Its tempting to consider a board for the bank more for the assisting notes which stipulate the CEP and market conditions than a token holder.


I think most players will need to write off the first game as a learning experience. For me game 2 was a learning experience. The problem for me is that its now apparent that teaching someone this game properly (no matter how experienced they are) does require the teacher to literally monitor and offer some advice or correction on the majority of moves they make from start to finish. There doesn't appear to be a point where all players have absorbed all the required mechanics to allow them to play unsupervised. Surround yourself with 3-4 new players and you might as well forget taking part in the game yourself if you want to do this job properly. My dilemma is that I never sit at a gaming table and see the same collection of faces at the same time. Most if not all games involve introducing a fresh face to a game for the first time and with that inevitability comes the realisation that I'm unlikey to ever play this and be able to give full attention to my options.

I'd be interested to hear what others think, even if that does include the inevitable 'You must be thick, my group picked up the rules 100% straight off'. However you will be damning yourself as a complete tool in my eyes if you do so.


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Gleb Semenjuk
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Well, I can admit, I am an *sshole, but in my gaming group there is a rule noone can avoid. You only come prepared. Or do not come at all. So, everyone knows the rules from the start. It may seem tough at the beginning, but after some mental preparation, it really works.

And no game is tough to comprehend if everyone had read the rules a couple of times beforehand.
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Jack Francisco
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If this game is tougher to grasp than Vinhos, then I would only buy it if it was a total steal. Vinhos pretty much taps my tiny brain's capacity.
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Daniel Halasz
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First time we played it with 5 new players (including me). I read the rules about 3 times, and made some example round alone at home. (others were absolutely newbies, but gamers)
A 5 player game for the first play was a big mistake. It was very hard to handle everything. I was totally exhausted after the about 3 - 3.5 hour long game.
I think the first game should be played with 3 players. And you should try to avoid more then 2 new players in the next games.
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Bruno Valerio
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Gleb wrote:
Well, I can admit, I am an *sshole, but in my gaming group there is a rule noone can avoid. You only come prepared. Or do not come at all. So, everyone knows the rules from the start. It may seem tough at the beginning, but after some mental preparation, it really works.

And no game is tough to comprehend if everyone had read the rules a couple of times beforehand.


Couldn't agree more!

More so that bad preparation leads to a bad gaming experience, which sometimes will be hard to get over. You'll end up with a bad idea of a good game.
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Ludwig Seitz
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What you describe here (first few games are learning games, constant need to monitor the players learning the game, feeling overwhelmed by the number of options ...) could be applied to any complex game. I guess it depends on what your group usually plays and what expectations they bring to the table.

If you don't insist on playing optimal on your first few games, I don't find C02 to be especially complex. You only have 3 main actions to choose from, plus another 3 optional actions. Sometimes it is even predetermined which of the main actions you can choose (e.g. if no proposed or installed projects are available).

It is quite understandable that one misses a few rules and makes a few mistakes on their first plays, but that shouldn't be such a serious matter right? It only gives you an incentive to play again with the correct rules

By the way I don't quite understand what you mean with:
Quote:

If you are going to appreciate tech cube requirement to build properly, the crane icon on the expertise track needs to span the required squares


It almost sounds to me as if you got a rule wrong.


Anyway, what I'm trying to say is this: either you and your group get pleasure out of trying to master the complexity of C02, then a few errors and suboptimal plays won't matter that much. Or you might find it's just not worth the trouble, and then you simply move on, there are so many other games out there ...
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Kurt R
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senorcoo wrote:
If this game is tougher to grasp than Vinhos, then I would only buy it if it was a total steal. Vinhos pretty much taps my tiny brain's capacity.

I have a moratorium on teaching Vinhos for a year at least. I rarely "play" that game when I'm playing it b/c I'm answering so many questions. I'm hoping this isn't like that.
 
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Jack Francisco
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I hear you. I haven't sold it yet, because I'm waiting to see if I like Viticulture more. If that's the case, then my Vinhos may be history.
 
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Bruno Valerio
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Ludwig Seitz wrote:
What you describe here (first few games are learning games, constant need to monitor the players learning the game, feeling overwhelmed by the number of options ...) could be applied to any complex game. I guess it depends on what your group usually plays and what expectations they bring to the table.


Exactly, you should approach each type of game accordingly. This is not a light game but it isn't overly complex either.

The designer has also been posting some nice videos to help throughout gameplay.
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Nick Case
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Ludwig Seitz wrote:


By the way I don't quite understand what you mean with:
Quote:

If you are going to appreciate tech cube requirement to build properly, the crane icon on the expertise track needs to span the required squares


It almost sounds to me as if you got a rule wrong.


And that sounds to me like you have been playing this rule incorrectly;

Your Company must have Expertise in that energy source, equal to or higher than the number of tech resources required to build it.

You don't just need to reach the crane icon, that seems to just flag the requirement of the first plants available. As the pile goes down, the number of tech cubes required increases. Reaching the first crane icon will not be enough to build the later plants in that energy source (Solar needs progression of 4).
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unkle
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I already played CO2 4 times. 2 times with gamers, 2 times with a less involve public. And I am still not clear on what could be so daunting.

Sure, I use about 45 minutes explaining the rules, giving examples,... During a player's turn, I remind him of available left options in the non-mandatory actions,... So it is some work. But it is the case with almost all games with the weight of CO2. Believe me, CO2 is nowhere as complex as Vinhos. As long as you get the CEP market working (and this one is really really easy) game flow is fluid.

So either you were not ready for the explanation (and I agree that getting it correctly done is tricky, BUT mandatory), or your group is not willing to absorb it. Currently, I think CO2 has a rule weight around Agricola. Iconography and helps are very reasonnable. And gameplay for 4 players was between 2 to 2h30 depending if we played 4 or 5 periods.

Just saying to others who have not yet played the game that this is not my experience. So there is hope
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David Larkin
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unkle wrote:
Currently, I think CO2 has a rule weight around Agricola. Iconography and helps are very reasonnable.

That was what I was thinking, first game of Agricola is all a bit confusing, by the time you have got a dozen under your belt you start to see the nuances. I generally prefer games with a bit of meat on them

Having said that the rules/board could be clearer
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unkle
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Zark wrote:
unkle wrote:
Currently, I think CO2 has a rule weight around Agricola. Iconography and helps are very reasonnable.

That was what I was thinking, first game of Agricola is all a bit confusing, by the time you have got a dozen under your belt you start to see the nuances. I generally prefer games with a bit of meat on them

Having said that the rules/board could be clearer


Agreed on the rules. I have no issue (for now) with the board. On the contrary
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Ludwig Seitz
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Big Bad Lex wrote:
[...]

You don't just need to reach the crane icon, that seems to just flag the requirement of the first plants available. As the pile goes down, the number of tech cubes required increases. Reaching the first crane icon will not be enough to build the later plants in that energy source (Solar needs progression of 4).


blush you are right. Now your sentence about the crane icons makes much more sense to me.

Note to self: Never trust a stressed out guy at a booth in Essen trying to explain the rules, read yourself.
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Derek Carver
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I played in the game Nick described in his posting. The dilemma he points out (i.e. the problem faced by the teachers of a new and complex game never being able to concentrate on their own game due to having to continuously answer rule questions) is common to everybody I guess. It certainly was to me - my house hosting a lot of gaming sessions - so I came up with my own solution. I always make a distillation of all of the rules and give a copy to each player. We start the game by reading them through - and let me say here that I have never found a game where this cannot be done on two sides of an A4 sheet. I then insist that players don't keep asking questions but refer to their copy of the rules. Hopefully between us all doing this we get the rules correct.

I did this for CO2 and for the game Nick played in. And had Nick not been there these are the rules we would have used to teach us the game. But Nick had not only played the game once before but is a truly excellent teacher. Consequently it was only me who referred to these rules (I'd typed them up after all) and he unfortunately suffered the bombardment of questions. And his own game was rather spoiled in consequence.

For my own two-pennyworth I didn't find the rules excessively difficult. Not easy to grasp at the outset and it certainly takes one game to learn them. I agree about the 'Construction' icon on the tracks, which threw two of us. Best leave it off altogether. Generally speaking the rule book was clear enough apart from the reference to the controller of a region being able to take CEPs from that region "anytime you need to spend them". This we originally misinterpreted as when you needed more cash. In other words you took the CEPs and subsequently sold them to the market. But even though the wording is the same throughout the various languages in the rule book (so isn't a mistake in translation) I think one has to take the word 'spend' literally, which doesn't include 'sell'. It is when you need to pay a CEP for Installation for example. I felt the rules could just have been that bit more explicit, which would have made a great difference to our game.
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Vital Lacerda
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2010 - Vinhos, 2012 - CO2, 2014 - kanban, 2015 - The Gallerist, 2016 - Vinhos Deluxe, 2017 - Lisboa, 2018 - Escape Plan, CO2 Second Chance and Dragon Keepers - Maybe: 2019 - ROTW Portugal and On Mars, 2020 - Kanban Deluxe Edition, Mercato
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Carver wrote:
apart from the reference to the controller of a region being able to take CEPs from that region "anytime you need to spend them". This we originally misinterpreted as when you needed more cash. In other words you took the CEPs and subsequently sold them to the market. But even though the wording is the same throughout the various languages in the rule book (so isn't a mistake in translation) I think one has to take the word 'spend' literally, which doesn't include 'sell'. It is when you need to pay a CEP for Installation for example. I felt the rules could just have been that bit more explicit, which would have made a great difference to our game.


Yes, I agreed that rule could be more explicit, but in 2.2.2 Market says that:
Quote:
you can sell 1 CEP from your hand (and only from your hand) to the market.


In player aid you have the CEPs flux and there aren't any arrows pointing from regions to the market.



So, with this two references I thought the rule was covered.

You can watch and take doubts in this series of videos about the rules and game play of CO2.

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/video/22632/co/co2-board-game-h...
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Nick Case
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unkle wrote:
I already played CO2 4 times. 2 times with gamers, 2 times with a less involve public. And I am still not clear on what could be so daunting.

Sure, I use about 45 minutes explaining the rules, giving examples,... During a player's turn, I remind him of available left options in the non-mandatory actions,... So it is some work. But it is the case with almost all games with the weight of CO2. Believe me, CO2 is nowhere as complex as Vinhos. As long as you get the CEP market working (and this one is really really easy) game flow is fluid.

So either you were not ready for the explanation (and I agree that getting it correctly done is tricky, BUT mandatory), or your group is not willing to absorb it. Currently, I think CO2 has a rule weight around Agricola. Iconography and helps are very reasonnable. And gameplay for 4 players was between 2 to 2h30 depending if we played 4 or 5 periods.

Just saying to others who have not yet played the game that this is not my experience. So there is hope


I'm with you that the best way to learn the game is one on one. I'd actually say thats perfect. Unfortunately I rarely play against just one opponant and both of my games have been with 4.

After that I'd agree that initially the explanation of Vinhos is more complicated and takes longer, but once explained, the structure and flow of Vinhos is easier to follow, there are more helpful icons on the board, there is less room to make overlooked mistakes, the rules are less fiddly. In my experience, after one round players are confident enough to progress their own moves correctly without needing as much reassurance.

With that common ground out of the way, I don't think its possible for me to disagree with your other points any more than I do;

CO2 contains many one-off, non intuitive, fiddly rules that trip players up throughout the game. You say the workings of the CEP market are really easy. I don't agree. Sell a CEP and the price goes down, buy a CEP, the price stays the same, unless its the last CEP in the stack and the price goes up. But do remember that selling a CEP is the only time the CEP goes back to the market, all other times it goes to the Bank. Use a CEP for an installation and pay from hand to the Bank, unless you control a region and you can pay from that region, but you cant sell a CEP to the market from a region that you control, even though the rules do say;

You can take CEPs from regions you control, anytime you need to spend them.

not forgetting that when you build a green plant and replace a fossil fuel plant you take a CEP from the market and add it to the region as long as the max allowance of CEPs for that region isn't exceeded (which is the number of empty spaces), in which case the rules don't say if the CEP stays in the market or goes to the bank, although a region will pay a CEP to the bank when a fossil fuel plant is built in that region, unless its controlled by a player in which case they must pay the CEP from their own hand, to the bank.

You know, I wouldn't call that arrangement for the CEP market 'really really easy' and I would challenge any experienced gamer to be 'ready' to clearly explain such a set of considerations and for any group to be 'ready' to absorb and remember them. I still think a few notes and icons on the board to help you out with the CEP arrangements would be useful, AND THERE ARE NONE. And I don't find that arrangement 'very reasonable' either.

I won't repeat this process for the Scientist options.

Rule weight and rule clarity are two different fish. I didn't raise the issue of weight in the OP.

I'd just like to say to those who haven't played yet,

1/ I would support the advice given in the second post, be insistant that all players have read the rules to an extent where they have a working understanding of the game.

2/ Print off the available player aid and card manifest and give one to each player.

3/ Work through the player aid as the game is explained. Encourage players to use this to structure their turns.

Just to end with some tokenism of agreement, there is certainly hope. I wouldn't be burning time on this if I didn't think this game was worth the effort but don't open the box and expect to read the rules outloud and play correctly 20 minutes later. IMHO, this game needs substantially more preparation and application than 99.9% of other games here on BGG.
 
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Michiel Hillenius
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I read the rules already before Essen, I knew it was a complex game. Yes, that requires extra effort to get your group to play it fluently. I compare it with Brass. Also has some hard to grasp unusual mechanisms, you'll have to closely monitor other players turns. Teaching the game is an investment, but it is really worth it. I have played it four times now. Twice with my wife, twice with one of my gamergroups. In the first games we made some minor errors, from game three onwards we play it 100% correctly.
Conclusion: yes, quite a bit of rules, but it is really worth the investment. This is a unique game, a real life theme translated into a game. The designer took a big effort to make the translation right and still create an interesting game out of it. Lots of respect to Vital for that. And I also appreciate the continuous online help. Vital clearly follows the threads and is ready to step in and answer. And don't forget his notes here, which are very useful for new players. http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/880800/one-sentence-rand...
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Ludwig Seitz
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Big Bad Lex wrote:
IMHO, this game needs substantially more preparation and application than 99.9% of other games here on BGG.


Sorry to be nitpicking here but you are grossly exagerating.

Just for the fun of it: There are 61806 games in the BGG database (if I read the numbers right).

61806*99,9% = 61744,194 rounded to 61744 in your favour, so according to you there are only 61806 - 61744 = 62 games in the database more complex than CO2.

Honestly I can pick 100 easily that are way more complex both procedure wise and rule wise.

So please keep it realistic.
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Ludwig Seitz wrote:
Big Bad Lex wrote:
IMHO, this game needs substantially more preparation and application than 99.9% of other games here on BGG.


Sorry to be nitpicking here but you are grossly exagerating.

Just for the fun of it: There are 61806 games in the BGG database (if I read the numbers right).

61806*99,9% = 61744,194 rounded to 61744 in your favour, so according to you there are only 61806 - 61744 = 62 games in the database more complex than CO2.

Honestly I can pick 100 easily that are way more complex both procedure wise and rule wise.

So please keep it realistic.


For the fun of it, I'm going to use your logic against you.

Sorry to be nitpicking here but you are blowing his gross exaggeration way out of proportion.

If he had said 99% instead of 99.9% (relative error < 1 percent) the calculation would have yielded over 600 games more complex than CO2. Can you so easily pick over 600 games that are way more complex both procedure wise and rule wise than CO2?

So please keep it realistic.
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Nick Case
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Feel free to nitpik away, but because you are a thorough and conscientious sort of person, I will now require you to list all 62+ games that you believe to be more 'complex procedure... and rule wise' with a weighting system of scientific merit to demonstrate the truth of your statement.

This isn't because I disagree with you or in fact for any good reason, its just because you seem to have started a new thread. Although you did quote me, if you just reread that quote properly you'd see that I never mentioned complex procedures and rules, I actually wrote;

IMHO, this game needs substantially more preparation and application than 99.9% of other games here on BGG.

So when you've finished your 'Complex Procedure and Rule' thesis, I'd be eternerly grateful if you could do the same again to support my 'Preparation and Application' theory, because to be honest, I really can't be arsed.

'IMHO' doesn't seem to be the 'Get out of Jail free' card it used to be.

 
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Being realistic, I really think (IMHO, IIRC, YMMV,...) the CEP market structure is simple.

1. All CEPs used are going to the bank, all CEPs sold are going to the market
2. All CEPs enter the game (players, region) from the market. If the market is empty it is filled from the bank with 2 CEPs.
3. Price goes down as soon as a CEP is sold, price goes up as soon as the market is empty.
4. If price has moved up, you cannot sell anymore.
5. You can only but or sell one CEP per turn, to/from your hand.

I tend to agree that the crane icon/rule for building is worse than it should be, meaning that the icon is in fact not completely useful. Hint, I played twice without the rule correctly used in the game and it was still awsome.

Last, I still think (even if Vital is close to convince me of its usefulness) that the rule on scientists during installation depending if it yours or not is weird. But hint again, we played twice with the wrong rule and it was still awsome.

So in the end, I think everyone agrees here that the game has some weight, and that rules could have been written better. But in the end, from the heavy Essen games I already played with non-hardcore gamers (Keyflower, Zimbabwe, Tzolkin) CO2 is clearely the one that was best received. And asked again. And each game, even with minor rule issues, was plain fun. So, while criticism is always good, I really think it is a game worth playing. It brings unique decisions, in which you consider everyone's positions, in which you will ahve to open the game for others to keep it going, so it is full of non zero-sum decisions, full of shared interests with other players. It is, after 4 plays, the Essen game I currently want to play the most. It may be in the end that the Splotter is the better game, but it feels more "classic". So Vital, again, thanks for that. And keep up the very good job at proposing new things to players thumbsup
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Ludwig Seitz
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Big Bad Lex wrote:
Feel free to nitpik away, but because you are a thorough and conscientious sort of person, I will now require you to list all 62+ games that you believe to be more 'complex procedure... and rule wise' with a weighting system of scientific merit to demonstrate the truth of your statement.


I will gladly do so by PM if you really want to.

Quote:

This isn't because I disagree with you or in fact for any good reason, its just because you seem to have started a new thread. Although you did quote me, if you just reread that quote properly you'd see that I never mentioned complex procedures and rules, I actually wrote;


Well my wording might not correspond to 99,9% with yours, but IHMO (lets try to get out of jail too) I'm still on topic. Rule complexity and procedural complexity are factors that makes games hard to prepare and apply.

So lets try to realign our discussions:
You say: CO2 is hard to prepare and apply, actually in the top 100 (or so) of the hardest games to prepare and apply. Am I paraphrasing you right this time?

I say: No it isn't in the top 100 by a long shot. There are many games that require much more effort to prepare and apply (because of their complexity).

On a side-note because I think numbers are fun:
whattheproblemis wrote:

Can you so easily pick over 600 games that are way more complex both procedure wise and rule wise than CO2?


Yes but it'll take more time. Let me just check the wargame section, the 18xx line, as well as some of the older Avalon Hill and Games Workshop titles.





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Derek Carver
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I've rather come into this thread by a side-door but have to say that apart from the niggle I mentioned above regarding Controlling a Region and CEPs I see nothing whatsoever wrong with the rule book, which I see has been criticised in this thread. The game is complex - yes. But I found the rules to be perfectly clear and if I personally made mistakes it was not due to badly written rules.

Of course, whether or not you like what you read - well, that's a separate issue.
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Michiel Hillenius
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Carver wrote:
I've rather come into this thread by a side-door but have to say that apart from the niggle I mentioned above regarding Controlling a Region and CEPs I see nothing whatsoever wrong with the rule book, which I see has been criticised in this thread. The game is complex - yes. But I found the rules to be perfectly clear and if I personally made mistakes it was not due to badly written rules.

Of course, whether or not you like what you read - well, that's a separate issue.


+1
 
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