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Subject: So, what's so great about Friedrich? rss

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Flannel Golem
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I've seen a lot of talk about Friedrich on BGG lately, and as a wargame and a Eurogame enthusiast I've followed it with some interest. Unfortunately, there are just a couple things that bother me about it that keep me from ever considering it as a possible purchase -- could any of its many champions here onsite possibly convince me that my misgivings are for naught and that I should drop everything to rush down to my FLGS and purchase it *RIGHT NOW*?

This is probably the sillier of my objections, but it's the cards. Theme is fairly important to me, and though I'll play standard card games, they often feel too dry and abstract and theme-less to me, and consequently I would much rather play just about any boardgame over a standard card game. Now I realize how the cards are used in Friedrich to resolve battles, but why 52 cards in four suits? Moreover, why are the suits hearts, spades, clubs and diamonds? I realize the cards have been minimally "themed" with pictures of 18th century figures, but could one not just as well play with a Spongebob-themed deck of cards? What do the cards really bring to the game thematically? It might make me feel better if territories on the map were assigned a particular suit because the terrain was particularly amenable to a certain type of 18th century military unit, like cavalry, artillery, footsoldier, or whatever (already sounds better than hearts, clubs, or spades, doesn't it? devil ); but do any Friedrich-players really feel this to be the case?

My biggest misgiving, however, is that players are randomly booted out of the game at the whim of a card draw. How is this fun for anyone but the Prussian player? Whenever one sees the term "Eurogames" defined, it almost always includes the concepts of "no/limited randomness", and "being able to pursue one of multiple possible strategies" with "little to no player elimination". So how must it feel to the Russian player after executing a moderately successful strategy over the past hour and a half to suddenly be told "okay, time's up, sorry, you're done!"? In fact, will everyone feel their time particularly well-spent, or the Prussian feel his victory well-earned, if (in an admittedly unlikely situation) the first 3 cards drawn eliminate all Prussia's major rivals one after another?

I must admit that I know very little of the game myself other than what I've read and seen from snicholson's vlog and the various forum threads I've come across, but when I see so many people on BGG praising a game that appears to go against three major tenets of Eurogame design, I can't help but wonder what I must be missing...! Is there anyone here who can show me the error of my ways? arrrh

 
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Jason Sadler
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Re: So what's so great about Friedrich?
Going against the tenants of Eurogame design is often a really good thing to do. I would suggest playing someone else's copy. Barring that, just don't get it and get something that does appeal to you.
 
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Bill the Pill
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First off, the board is divided into the suits, meaning you best not fight more than one battle in each suit. This mechanism is a simple way to have a reason to move armies in certain directions. The suits are all period (that is when they were popularized), so that shouldn't bother you. Card play in battle is far more interesting in this game than battle cards in We the People or even Hannibal: RvC.
The game plays just like the Seven Years' War, as generals jockey for position but Prussian generals avoid fighting unless they have to. Lots of attempts at cutting off supply-lines instead of constant head-to-head battles.
Randomness is good, as no two games will come out the same. A good leader must figure out how to overcome events to come out on top, and not all events are knowable. Also, having players give in can be factored into the game by having the Russian player also play the French. When you do this Friedrich is the best three player game I have ever played in my 28 years of gaming. Give it a try.
Cheers,
Bill
 
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Hunga Dunga
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DrFlanagan wrote:
When you do this Friedrich is the best three player game I have ever played in my 28 years of gaming.

For me, this is the most salient feature: it's a game MADE for three players.

However, Friedrich is a CARD game. If you like card games, you'll enjoy Friedrich.
 
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Kevin Moody
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Quote:
My biggest misgiving, however, is that players are randomly booted out of the game at the whim of a card draw. How is this fun for anyone but the Prussian player? Whenever one sees the term "Eurogames" defined, it almost always includes the concepts of "no/limited randomness", and "being able to pursue one of multiple possible strategies" with "little to no player elimination". So how must it feel to the Russian player after executing a moderately successful strategy over the past hour and a half to suddenly be told "okay, time's up, sorry, you're done!"? In fact, will everyone feel their time particularly well-spent, or the Prussian feel his victory well-earned, if (in an admittedly unlikely situation) the first 3 cards drawn eliminate all Prussia's major rivals one after another?
Just as no one in the conflict knew when the battles would end, neither do the players. The random game-end, by power, adds a lot of excitement to the game and means that certain powers can't afford to turtle and build up cards (think of cards as representing a combination of insight into and prepositioning of the local terrain, rather than the (IMO) bland cards from We the People and Hannibal, and that the superior card holder will have an advantage in position and in dictating the time and tempo of the battle). Russia is, IIRC, the only power that can be eliminated from the game through one card, and the soonest that could happen would already be well into the game. I can't remember what the odds would be of Russia getting drawn as the first Fate card, but it is very, very low, and there are cards that are harmful to the Prussians as well (reducing their hand size, for example). What helps many people think of it as more of a wargame is that each card is based on historical precedence, although one could argue all day about the impact of each card, my limited knowledge of the conflict indicates they're accurate enough. It is a very unusual game, euro-like in simplicity but with a great historical narrative that never jumps off the rails of historical plausibility, unlike so many hybrid games that are clearly using a tacked-on theme.
 
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Mike Frantz
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The cards are simply "resources" that you expend in certain areas. You can't be strong everywhere...every general throughout history has had to make choices about where to be strong and where to be weak. The card drawing/playing in Friedreich is brilliant and far more themed than rolling a bunch of dice.

The random ending forces action. Otherwise the game turns into one of timing and diplomacy, ala Risk. You would wait until someone else attacks and then you attack. You can't do that too much in Friedrich because the clock is ticking (at an indeterminate rate)....again, a neat solution to the problem...a fixed number of turns always devolves into "gamey" actions on the penultimate and final turns, and unlimited turns is decidely ahistorical because no nation can keep up the war effort forever.

 
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Charles F.
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Francois, I was equally extremely skeptical about the cards prior to playing the game. Sounded way too abstract and oddly counter-simulative. I'm happy to say that those reservations were entirely done away with by playing the game. I trust quite a few people with some wargaming background will have felt the same.

What do the cards represent? Well, what they depict can be easily rationalized in various ways - as illustrated by Kevin. Sure, the mechanism is quite an abstraction, but I think you'll be surprised how many military issues are reflected by Friedrich's cards in some form or measure.

The fate cards: They do indeed introduce a great deal of luck to the game (which the tactical cards IMO do not since things do tend to average out given the many card draws). I can easily see that this degree of luck can be a problem for some gamers. For me, it works. It creates the right dynamic in that the coalition members need to attack head on. Okay, the fate cards can be cruel. But I play games for the fun and experience. I don't care particularly that I might get whacked every couple of game by nasty fate cards.

So, Francois, if you can buy into the game philosophy underlying these explanations, then you shouldn't find these matters a problem, but part of what makes Friedrich special.

The REAL issue I personally have with Friedrich is that it's IMO longer than it really wants to be. It might take 23 turns! With seven nations making a move each turn (until they leave the war). Something like 140 moves... Sure, most games will take a good deal less, but IMO the fate deck ought to have been thinned out and the coalition's power strengthened accordingly. However, the designer disagrees. But since my groups tend to have trouble finishing the game on a weekday gaming evening, it does happen to be an issue for US (as we basically always have a newbie on board learning the ropes).

Friedrich is a remarkable game and one of the most innovative conflict games to come out in quite some time (as far as I can judge). Will you enjoy it? I don't know you and can only guess (I dare say you would). But ultimately you'll have to give it a whirl yourself to know for sure.
 
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Bill the Pill
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Hungadunga wrote:
DrFlanagan wrote:
When you do this Friedrich is the best three player game I have ever played in my 28 years of gaming.

For me, this is the most salient feature: it's a game MADE for three players.

However, Friedrich is a CARD game. If you like card games, you'll enjoy Friedrich.


I disagree. I see it as a game of maneuver with cards serving as the combat randomizer and cards of fate as making it a race against time for the non-Prussians. The people I have played with are not big on card games, but they had a blast.
 
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Rusty McFisticuffs
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fendwick wrote:
What do the cards really bring to the game thematically?

Well, in a more traditional wargame, what do the dice bring to the game thematically?

I think the effect of the cards is really neat. At times you have to choose between withdrawing from a battle with minor losses, or pressing the attack and risking a disastrous defeat at the hands of an enemy who wasn't as exhausted as you thought he was. That's more fun, and gives more interesting choices, than "I got a 4, so you're Disrupted." And because the cards are also used for buying new troops, you have to plan ahead on where you're going to attack, and where you expect to be attacked.

(And I too disagree with the "Friedrich is a CARD game" comment; to use a game you rate highly as an example, that's like saying "Hammer of the Scots is a DICE game; if you like dice games, you'll enjoy ...")
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Dave Eisen
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I like the cards, I thought I would have a problem with them but I don't. They work well in practice.

I don't so much like the random endings for the various powers. It does seem like this overrides skillful play in determining the winner. Perhaps I am not a strong enough player yet to judge this, but it seems this way to me.
 
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richard sivel
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Quote:
My biggest misgiving, however, is that players are randomly booted out of the game

please note that players are NOT eliminated by the cards of fate, but only powers. (of corse it is stiil hard if russia is knocked out short before winning, but this happened in history, so the game simulates this thematical aspect)
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Necessary Evil
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A couple of things...

This is not a card game in that you are not trying to collect cards and order them in any real way. The cards are used to resolve battles. Having a lot of crds in a suit means you will have more flexability when fighting battles in areas of the map that have that suit governing them. (this is set up in a grid)

That being said what I like about the battles is the card play itself. Each Army has a hidden value that is revealed when a battle starts. I believe the weaker player is required to play a card. This is added to his army value. If the new value is higher than the othre armys current value then the 2nd player is required to play a card or retreat. When you retreat you lose strength equal to the current difference in value and the winner gets to retreat your army htat many spaces.

To me this is an elegant little combat system. It is quick and forces you to adapt your play to the cards you get.

As to the random player elimination. I think of this as a game clock. The attackers only have a certain amount of time to get the job done without risk of failue. After that they are pressing thier luck each additional turn. with out this system, prussia would never stand a chance, and even with it, it can be a real challenge to stay alive. sure russia could be 1 turn away from victory but no one has an unlimited amount of time to fight a war. Make sure the players are well aware of the chances that the fate cards will knock them out of the game and how long on average this takes and there should be no problems.

I for one love this game. It is a nice medium weight confict game for 3 people (a rare number) It is best to get 3 people who play and rotae the power so all get a chance to play the prussians.

Should you run out and buy this? Nope. Play it first, wait for the reprint to see what gets updated or changed. Then if you like it buy it.
This is the same advice I give for any game.

-Malloc


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Ray
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fendwick wrote:
...I see so many people on BGG praising a game that appears to go against three major tenets of Eurogame design, I can't help but wonder what I must be missing...! Is there anyone here who can show me the error of my ways? arrrh


I think labeling Friedrick a Eurogame (or even a game with Eurogame influences) is a bit misleading. It's a freshly innovative wargame. To explain:

Others have often written that the expectation between European gamers and US gamers is variation of mechanics vs variation of theme. The argument goes... European gamers feel cheated if a game is done with the same mechanics, but are OK with repeating themes/topics. US gamers don't mind wargame after wargame (or Monopoly after Monopoly) using the same system to portray different battles but think a theme is over done if it keeps getting used (like Egyptian games by Knizia).

Because of this wargames have fallen into certain mechanics and conventions that US gamers expect in them and anything different seems too foreign and abstract to be a wargame (one example of this is Up Front. When it first came out there were many that didn't think it was a wargame).

Friedrick is a wargames and because of the quite different type of mechanic involved (mechanics that IMO do a better job creating the feel of managing warfare logistics) it feels too abstract to some that have gotten use to certain conventions in their wargames. Furthermore because it has been released Post Settlers of Catan it has (wrongly in my opinion) been given the Eurogame label (something I believe will happen to any wargame with vastly different but innovative mechanics due to the expectation of mechanics in todays wargames)

Oh yes one more thing. To complain about the suites on the cards is no different than complaining about the black pips on the dice. Get past the presentation and look at what types of strategy they drive.
 
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Bill the Pill
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According to other threads, nothing is really changing, so play and buy today!
 
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