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Subject: So just how complex is VQ? rss

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Talon Amores
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A few days ago I eagerly ordered a copy of Virgin Queen, as a few people at my college had expressed interest in playing, and I myself was greatly intrigued by this game. I had never played Here I Stand, nor has any of the interested players. My copy just came in, and I began reading a bit of the rules, but now I'm reading on these forums that this game is apparently "not for the faint of heart". So here's what I was hoping to find out:

-Just how complex is VQ? Is it complex in that the rules are in-depth or complex as in there's a lot of options for all of the powers? How do you go about teaching its rules to first timers? Unfortunately most of the interested players I know for sure will not read the rulebook, so I need to teach them the hard way.

-How complex is VQ compared to, say, Here I Stand? Would it be feasible to break out that game first?

-Two other players don't seem to have a lot of experience with tabletop wargames, but they do have plenty of experience with PC grand strategy games like Victoria 2, Hearts of Iron, Crusader Kings 2, and other Paradox titles. With that being said, would that experience make their learning of the game easier?

I want to add that we'll be able to at most only get maybe 5 players in, four being the best possible number. I figure to make things a bit quicker to start off with the tournament scenario, but if there's something else y'all can suggest I'd love to hear it!
 
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Marco Poutré
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UN Spacy wrote:
Just how complex is VQ?


Your previous boardgaming experience aside, I'd rank it at complex.

UN Spacy wrote:
Is it complex in that the rules are in-depth or complex as in there's a lot of options for all of the powers?


Ah, that's a better question to which I'll answer the second part of your sentence is pretty spot on. Field battles are not complex, sieges are not complex, interceptions are not complex, naval battles are not complex but add everything together and you get a pretty beefy game. And add to this the fact that every power has its quirks.

UN Spacy wrote:
How do you go about teaching its rules to first timers? Unfortunately most of the interested players I know for sure will not read the rulebook, so I need to teach them the hard way.


It depends on your audience and your teaching skills. If you know you can "entertain" them for 2 hours and they will not pass out or start making jokes because they are clearly in over their head, that's the way to do it. Here I Stand being an older game, there are more resources such as rules primers around, some of them can be used for VQ. I'm not a big fan of "Hey, let's play a 6-7 hour teaching game" since sitting grown-ups together for that long is already a prowess and it should not be wasted.

UN Spacy wrote:
How complex is VQ compared to, say, Here I Stand? Would it be feasible to break out that game first?


That one is easy. Here I Stand is pretty comparable. Religion is easier in VQ but each power has a few more options (Marriages, patronage, etc.) Since you bought VQ, play it and don't go out of your way to get HIS for teaching purposes.

UN Spacy wrote:
Two other players don't seem to have a lot of experience with tabletop wargames, but they do have plenty of experience with PC grand strategy games like Victoria 2, Hearts of Iron, Crusader Kings 2, and other Paradox titles. With that being said, would that experience make their learning of the game easier?


Blarg, I don't think so. Maybe they'll be able to spot the spaces on the map faster than the others? The game system is not really comparable. That being said, it's better than being completely bored by history/geography.

UN Spacy wrote:
I want to add that we'll be able to at most only get maybe 5 players in, four being the best possible number. I figure to make things a bit quicker to start off with the tournament scenario, but if there's something else y'all can suggest I'd love to hear it!


The tournament scenario is quicker but when I handle the game better, it always gives me the impression that I'm resuming "someone else's game". The Campaign does a better job of giving you a clean slate where everything is possible.

I expect Heaven to be like playing HIS or VQ everyday with 5 other motivated players so don't give up on it.
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Steven
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Talon, after looking at your game list I noticed you have the Napoleonic Wars CDG. Have some of your friends at school played the game with you before? It certainly is a very different game, but the complexity is up there. If they have learned that game they probably will have a leg up on learning VQ. Plus, if any of them have played Andean Abyss with you, they may be more inclined for the diplomacy required for VQ, but it is worth noting that the diplomacy rules are very formalized in VQ compared to AA.

It is also good that some of your players are into Paradox strategy games (fun, long and generally complex), so hopefully they will have the patience to play one of these games.

Getting down to brass tacks:

-VQ is complex when all of the rules come together. Piggy-backing what Marco said, individually the rules are understandable, but when you add them all up it becomes a lot. It would be difficult for the average gamer, not familiar with a game of this scope, to learn in one sitting. I would absolutely recommend the players read up on the rules, or that you try to teach it to them before you play. It would be very difficult and tedious if no one, other than you, knew them! If your players are not willing to learn ahead of time, or at least get a better understanding of the rules... then this might not be the game for them.

I would check out Learning Here I Stand in 20 minutes or less. Although it is for VQ’s predecessor, many of the core concepts carry over, except the religious system which had a major overhaul. Also, read up on the extended example of play in the scenario book to help teach you and the other players.

-Your players probably need to know the game length ahead of time. If everyone clears their schedules for a day, or a couple of nights then you should be fine. This will be a game which will take probably an entire day if you play the full game. In my last ftf game, we played the campaign from about 10:30am-5pm. That was only 5 turns and was with a group of five players who all knew the rules. Your first game is probably going to take the same amount of time, even if you start with the tournament scenario, because people will be just learning the system for the first time.

-HIS will probably be easier to learn, not necessarily because the rules are any easier, but more how the game play and pace is structured. The HIS campaign scenario starts out at much slower than the VQ game, has less going on and powers can "specialize" on various parts of the rule book. For example the player who is England, Papacy and the Prots can read up on religion; England, France, and Spain read up on the New World; Ottomans read up on piracy. Diplomacy is also limited on turn one of the HIS campaign.

In VQ all of the players, except the one playing the Ottomans, need to know something about all the rules. Specifically, the Ottomans in VQ, do not have any royals and have much of an interest in the religious conflict. In both the campaign and tournament scenario for VQ the action is going to start fairly soon, so players will not get much of a chance to get familiar with playing before they are making deals, fighting someone etc. Not saying that this is a bad thing, especially to keep things interesting for the new players but there is not a lot of time to build up your strength before all hell breaks loose!

-VQ will play better with 4, or 5 than HIS. In VQ two major powers (the HRE and Ottomans) can function as non-player powers, sort of like large minor powers. This makes the game scale better than HIS. In HIS, if you are short-handed one or more of the players will control two powers. This generally means that the two teams which are under one player will generally be able to play so that one of their powers win.

I hope this helps and that you get to play VQ soon. It's worth the effort.

EDIT: Changed format and added a bit more after I read Marco's fine post.
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UN Spacy wrote:
I figure to make things a bit quicker to start off with the tournament scenario, but if there's something else y'all can suggest I'd love to hear it!
I'd recommend trying the campaign scenario first. The starting position is a bit more comprehensible, espionage is not in play for the first two turns, and the first diplomacy round is easier. Also, you can agree to play only the first four turns, which would make the length as bearable.
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Marco really nailed the key points.

Here's a thought: try the tutorial scenario with the friends who've already played those PC games.

The tutorial scenario starts on Turn 1 (the clean slate Marco talked about). It pits the Spanish against the Ottomans. As the one most well versed with the rules, you play the Spanish side. Your friend(s) can play the Ottomans, as Marco said, a pretty straightforward side, especially without expeditions, patronage, espionage and such.

After learning the basics, all of you should be ready for the full game; that way, you spread the knowledge and teaching load for your multi-player game.

If you start off with the full set of rules with 6 players, the huge "what-do-I-do-now" moment as the first player gets ready to move can really suck the oxygen out of the room.


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