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Subject: GMT Complexity Rating rss

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Peter Stubner
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I enjoy many GMT games yet I am still perplexed by their "Complexity Ratings". Some games have two parallel columns broken up into nine boxes. One column is complexity the other is soletaire suitability. Some games have just three choices; easy, medium, hard. The seasonal flyer they publish actually has a number ranking, 1 through x. I can judge that 1 is easiest but how hard is a 5 and how high does the ranking go? I've looked everywhere for what that numerical ranking means but I cannot find where GMT defines it.

What gives?
 
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Jeff K
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That complexity scale is standard to wargames. It harkens back to the old days of SPI and AH scales of 1-10, where monopoly was approx. a 2.7. A 5 would be considered an easy, introductory wargame along the lines of Napoleon at Waterloo or Battle for Moscow. A very complex game such as ASL would be at or near the top.

This geek list lists some of the gamnes and their attendant complexity ratings for your comparison:
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist.php3?action=view&listi...
 
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Philip Thomas
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Yes, Twilight Imperiumn is a "quick-playing, low complexity" game, according to the blurb on the back of the box. It rates a 4 on 'complexity' and a '2' on solitaire suitability. I wonder why this isn't a 1, since the game seems totally unsuited to solitaire play.

Anyway, at 3 hrs and many many cards, this is fairly lengthy and complex by my usual standards. It is all relative...
 
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Kevin Moody
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Pete noticed that GMT has a new scale on the back of the C&C:Ancients box describing its complexity as a medium level (on a low, medium, high scale...or was it a "2" on a "1" to "3" scale? I've already forgotten...)

Anyway, the problem is that wargame complexity ratings don't really match well with euro/German game complexities. GMT, I guess, was trying to introduce a description mmore suitable to "BGGers" rather than "CSWers".

There. I did it. I painted two groups into corners. Let the flame wars begin!!!!

That GMT flyer is based on a 1-10 scale, but they never specify that. Pete, being a rocket scientist in real life, probably assumed it uses some kind of base prime numbering system....
 
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Peter Stubner
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I know that complexity is all relative to a person's experience base and/or willingness to invest effort into learning a game. Also I figured the GMT number system (when they use it, which is inconsisten) was based on the old AH 1-10 system, but for anyone getting into gaming now does not have that frame of reference. A defined scale would be helpful. For example at the BGG you can find some written guidelines to what the 1 to 10 game rankings might mean. That at least gets newbies started.

Now as for prime numbers.....
 
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Hunga Dunga
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I only buy games with a complexity rating of "11".
 
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Steven Weisner
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Agreed, I think the complexity rating is not the same as it used to be, and does not really give an accurate guidline. I find the 'new' S&T games have a lot of pages of rules for low complexity games ( i.e. Downfall #230, or Dagger Thrusts #233. Seem to be written with newbies in mind. I have many old SPI games with 8 to 12 pages of rules which seem more complex. For me, complexity was judged by the size of the rulebook, not on the amount of 'work' involved in playing. Too old for complexity level of 11, myself, just do not have the time to invest in overly complicated games.
 
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Jeff K
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I see where Pete is coming from, now. Yeah, I agree it might be nice to have a standard scale that gives you a better indication of complexity. But like Kevin suggests, it's hard to form a consensus for a trait that is so relative and subjective. Shoot, even among wargamers, much less for gamers between genres, that's a tough row to hoe.

I am finding there is a large difference between complexity of gameplay and complexity of mechanics. Some "simpler" games offer a very deep play experience. OTOH, some have commented that they have played "complex rules-heavy games which often come out kind of scripted.

Nevertheless, ASL sits at the top for me. Compare everything to it and you might have a chance at a "universal wargame constant" (string theory for gamers).
 
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Richard Irving
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Quote:
Nevertheless, ASL sits at the top for me. Compare everything to it and you might have a chance at a "universal wargame constant" (string theory for gamers).


AH had the problem of what happens when we make a more complex than our current 10's when they released ASL--SL and Third Reich which previously had been 10's had to be downgraded. WIth ASL, the point has been reached that anything conceivably more complicated gets 10 we can rate.

They also had the problem as they went forward, that once ASL existed anything else got rated rather low because after all it would be MUCH simpler. 32 page rulebook, that's a piece of cake, rate it a 4 on complexity.

The tricky part is that games that may be very complex rules wise are MUCH easier if you have experience with similar games. Games that have mechanics that are unusual or simply diferent from what you are used to will seem more complicated than something that extends a system you already know.

I think what is needed is a few games as a scale for comparison (Rough guesses for some of these):

1 Very Simple games, Hex, Five in a row. Jenga
2 Ticket to Ride, checkers
3 Settlers of Catan, Memoir' 44, chess, Go
4 Puerto Rico, Victory in the Pacific, Diplomacy, C&C Ancients, Twilight Struggle
5 Die Macher, Hammer of the Scots, Civilization, We the People
6 Up Front, East Front, 18XX, Wilderness War
7 Paths of Glory
8 Third Reich,
9 Advanced Third Reich, Squad Leader
10 ASL

This is intended to measure rules complexity only. Games with simple rules can certainly have extremely complex strategies (Hex, Go, chess, etc.) And games with extremely complicated rules can often be not be all that difficult strategically--Campaign for North Africa (Keeping track of 1000's of pieces data for the sake of keeping track of 1000's of pieces of data does not constitute "strategy".)
 
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Kevin Moody
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Pretty good scale.

You're right about rules length not matching the difficulty of a game.

Take some of Vance von Borries' games, for example...pretty straight-foward, traditional mechanics, with a lot of chrome that makes it seem more realistic. Roads to Leningrad had a 20+ page rulebook, and it was so clear we never had to look at the excellent example of play that was included.

OTOH, 20 pages of rules for something like Breakout:Normandy or your first game of a Gamers' CWB game and you'll be wondering how you've suddenly become so damned stupid...

It's not that they're tougher, they're just different and will take some effort before play feels natural.

Example -- Breakout: Normandy was a chore for us because it was the first area-movement game I played. Later, playing Storm Over Arnhem against Pete Stubner (above) wasn't difficult. Pete went the opposite approach, from SoA to BKN, still tough, but probably a smoother and faster transition.

Ditto for card-driven games...probably not a good idea to begin with Empire of the Sun, For the People, or Triumph of Chaos. Begin with Hannibal, Sword of Rome, We the People, Twilight Struggle, or Wilderness War first.

Block games...playing Crusader Rex as your first block game is probably much easier than beginning with Hammer of the Scots.

and on and on....
 
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Hunga Dunga
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Seriously, I'm happy to play a game at any level of complexity, as long as it's fun.

This is kinda OT, but what I really want to find out is WHY a game is complex. Is it complex because you're about to embark on a journey of 5 million fiddly decisions, or is it complex because the mechanic is so nuanced that it takes a concerted effort to learn how to use it?

I'm all for the latter. The former, not so much.
 
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