Author Topic: First perceptions after two plays  (Read 5165 times)

ajax98

  • Guest
First perceptions after two plays
« on: March 05, 2010, 05:28:07 PM »
After playing the game, I have come to a couple of general perceptions.
As a game, 2nd Punic Wars, it works functionally and mostly rationally.
As a historical simulation or resource it is lacking (IMO it sucks).

One Size (set of rules) Does Not Fit All.
If you desire for it to be more historically accurate, it will need more ‘rules’ to define the special attributes of specialized units - in this case “Skirmishers” and how other units ‘react’ to them.

Historically some problems
Velites (Skirmishers in general) seem to be overpowered; thus cost ratio is skewed. Mercenaries, especially skirmishers, are in it for the money, not self sacrifice.
Pila - has a constant source of supply; sets the Inf up (particularly the Romans) to be an ahistorical ‘stand and shoot’ army.

My reading of history shows that in battle, the real concern was with an enemy in the Rear - caused Military and Morale problems.
Skirmishers on the flank are annoying, not ‘Pinch’ worthy; depth of units important to negating threats to flanks. Romans seem to ‘naturally’ want to do this for Special benefits and density Abilities (Repl & Reinf & Back Up)

Skirmishers are functional against different types of units in different manners.
Against Reg Inf units - engage the Rear
Against Cav units - engage the Flank or Rear
Against Skirmisher & Elephant units - engage Front, Flank or Rear
(skirmishers v Elephants, special time frame and special circumstances; historically the skirmishers first ran away, then learned to run in between)

The following are my notes:

The ability of having the Skirmishers able to actively act like Infantry is critical for the Carthaginians.

The game played such that every unit was important to the player. The Skirmishers are fundamentally Instrumental to the development of the game - something I find concerning.

The number of units on each side made concerns about being Pinched critical (even analyzing the Skirmishers without the "Pinch Check" bonus, the regular 'Pinch bonuses' are still very critical).

Even with Skirmishers on "R" they automatically put themselves into untenable situations and needed a lot of CA to prevent an Obvious stupid move- being Pinched by enemy Skirmishers. (Possible recourse- allow Skirmishers to Rout away from any attempt to engage/more play test.)

The numbers of Skirmishers alone makes them central to the plan; the areas under Skirmisher  influence is considerable.

The play of the game takes on the aspect of how to keep the Skirmishers alive and in the game.

The idea that Slingers or LOS Archers would even consider attacking a regular Infantry unit on other than the Rear makes me cringe.
Mercenary Skirmishers need to act like they want to survive.

Main source battle for info:
2d Punic War Battle nr2; 2000pt Roman card (14 units)vs Carthage custom (13 units)
C. w/6 skirmishers in line abreast 3 BS & 3C, on “R”, should naturally resolve to a “flypaper” sit. 2 Lib foot, 2 Scutarii, 1 Elephant, 1 Numidian; Line is very ‘light’ and Attack group is so-so (1 Elephant, 1 Numidian).

Vs Roman 6 +2 main Inf, 2 H, 1P,1VetP, 2 It Sword, + 2 Triarii [Inf 2 to 1], 2 Cav, 4 velites  [what is the diff tyween Roman & Italian Allies mil formations?]
Velites should be 1 to 1 with Hastati or Ital equiv (as it seems to be in this set up)

gull2112

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4197
  • From the RUSH faction
    • Meditations on Brain Injury
Re: First perceptions after two plays
« Reply #1 on: March 12, 2010, 09:54:51 PM »
I was rather disappointed that there wasn't a simple "Legion" build (nor can there be). I agree that the game is fun. It is not to be mistaken as historical, and so I see the skirmisher debate as totally unnecessary. They are too complex for fantasy and they work within their BG:HW context.
"Rules are only as good as the book they're bound in."
http://gullsbattleground.blogspot.com/

ajax98

  • Guest
Re: First perceptions after two plays
« Reply #2 on: March 13, 2010, 01:18:26 AM »
I was rather disappointed that there wasn't a simple "Legion" build (nor can there be).

Ditto

Quote
I agree that the game is fun.

Er, did you miss the part where I "cringe"? I will play the "historical" version for research/play testing, or if somebody requests it. Otherwise I will avoid it. I don't find it fun.

Quote
It is not to be mistaken as historical,

That is why it jumps the shark for me, as it is marketed as "historical".

Quote
and so I see the skirmisher debate as totally unnecessary. They are too complex for fantasy and they work within their BG:HW context.

"Unnecessary" as in, it is only a game? Perhaps. "Too complex for Fantasy" - in the present form, perhaps.
However, I can perceive the possibilities of the game being historically accurate and playable. And that it still possible to do so.

I bothered to put forth my comments as an effort to understand the inconsistencies of the game play to history, as initiated by other players observations.

As such they remain my personal effort and opinion.

gull2112

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4197
  • From the RUSH faction
    • Meditations on Brain Injury
Re: First perceptions after two plays
« Reply #3 on: March 13, 2010, 02:39:30 PM »
I agree with you that perhaps, in trying to be all things to all people, BG is stepping away from what it does really well, which is provide a low cost fast play alternative to fantasy miniatures. It is so simple and clean that there is an incredible temptation to fiddle with it. I have never seen this work in any other game system. Whenever I have tried to homebrew rules of greater complexity I find that it is never worth the cost in fun.

If historical sets continue to be produced by YMG that is fine, I just want there to be a clear delineation between fantasy and historical. I would be disappointed to see historical rules drifting over into fantasy and murkying the fantasy rules. A clear example is skirmishers vs. wolfkin. The wolfkin rules are skirmisher-like but very clean. The skirmisher rules are very subject to misinterpretation and confusion, much of this is caused by what players think ought to happen, or what they think did happen historically.

I would prefer there be a basic set of rules for Battleground which would apply to fantasy, and special rules for historical factions included with each historical faction.

The fact that BG has no literal scale in range or number of figures is a huge strength in fantasy and an equally huge liability in historical. I don't see how that can be resolved. The detail required for historical scenarios does not translate well in Battleground terms, and is too tedious for fantasy play.

DBA is my choice for historical battles; BG:FW is my choice for fantasy. That being said, I'd much rather play BG:FW! :)
"Rules are only as good as the book they're bound in."
http://gullsbattleground.blogspot.com/

Hannibal

  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4708
Re: First perceptions after two plays
« Reply #4 on: March 13, 2010, 04:27:46 PM »
Quote
That is why it jumps the shark for me, as it is marketed as "historical".....I bothered to put forth my comments as an effort to understand the inconsistencies of the game play to history, as initiated by other players observations.

And here's why BGHW is not a jumping the shark:  because it opens a niche for the hobby historical gamer.  When it comes to historicals, there's really two types of people:

1)  The gamers who are meticulous about making sure that the historical game is a near-perfect simulation of real world events.  They laboriously recreate every little detail and often force the game to go as the historical simulation, and thus lock the game into a pre-determined outcome.

2)  The people who don't play historicals because of group #1.


BGHW is for the second group who have a looser requirement for 100% accuracy.  They want the feel of a historical game, without getting bogged down in the minutae.  To group #1, accuracy = fun.  That's fine, but I think there's a missing game for the #2 crowd who want something that is more "let's get together over some beers, push some cards, and roll some dice."

I think BGHW is for that second crowd.  Is it a 100% recreation of every aspect of a historical army?  No.  But it was never intended to be.  And anyone who thought it was, simply has misplaced expectations.  Rome & Carthage are not historical recreations of the two armies.  They are the Roman as Carthaginian armies of the Punic Wars as presented  by the Battleground rules set.

Obviously group #1 will think it "sucks" because of it is not DBA.  Again, that's fine.  Go play DBA.  But its disingenuous, at best, to bash on a system for failing to do something it was never eve attempting to do.


All that being said, there were attempts to represent the Roman & Carthaginian army as accurately as possible.  In fact the skirmishers came about as part of that compromise that is marrying the fantasy system to a real world historical system.  And I for one say that Chad & Co, did a good job.

More directly, I'm willing to throw my credentials out there.  I was brought onboard by Chad as a playtester, but really I was essentially a historical consultant.  I pointed out a few things and then he delved into the field of work.  So after a few conversations, I never saw the Punic Wars until they were in print.  And when I did, I was impressed at the verisimilitude of the sets.  I felt they did capture the Punic Wars fairly well.

Beyond that, I showed this set to some of my old professors, essentially explaining the game to them.  By and large they were impressed, with one talking about picking up the cards as a teaching aide.  I also had the chance to play a few games with a friend who has a Classics degree, with an emphasis on ancient military history.  He was impressed by the set, both as a scholar and a gamer.

Now Ajax, you disagree, based on historical accuracy.  Which is fine, you are entitled to your opinion.  But with all due respect, I find your interpretations of history . . . questionable.  You can say that you have "the facts" but in truth you have your interpretation of the texts that have survived and been translated (unless you can read Attic Greek and Classical Latin).  So in the end, it is really just your interpretation vs the interpretations of professional scholars.  I've already stated who I think is superior.

Now in the end, Ajax, you may find BGHW "sucks."  Again, that's cool.  Smart people can have different opinions.  I feel that you are selling BGHW short and feel it should be defended for what it is.  And for what it tries to do, I think it succeeds admirably.  I pitch the game to people as a way to get all the fun of DBA without any of the hassle.

Okay I've said my piece.  Feel free to respond, but please know I won't.  We'll just end up saying the same things at each other, neither changing the other's mind.  And that leads to anger, which leads to flame wars, which leads to the dark side.  I just felt that your assessment was unfairly harsh.

ajax98

  • Guest
Re: First perceptions after two plays
« Reply #5 on: March 13, 2010, 07:03:56 PM »
... I just felt that your assessment was unfairly harsh.

Everything to this point was generally a matter of opinion, which can differ.

I take issue with "unfairly".
To me that would indicate that I chosen to pick on or highlight something that is either of such minor or insignificant importance as to do so for my own aggrandizement or that it is so integral to the game that it would lead to directly trying to tear down the whole "system" of the game.

I did not start the questions; there were a number of players that started playing the 'historical system' and wrote about their problems. As was pointed out by others, it is even written as such by the designers / developers of the 'Skirmisher rules' in the booklet.

I put the the 'historical rules' under analysis and found some problems and wrote my opinions.
I recently put the cards on the table and played the 'historical game'.

The 'problems' that I discovered, were very similar to what others had previously described. From my perspective, these things bugged me and created unhistorical situations and outcomes. Some of which was directly related to "keeping the game system" simple and easy to play. I can accept a certain level of that. But, IMO, too much was homogenized and over simplified.

This would all be rather moot IF there wasn't alternative methodologies to address these issues. There are and they can still be addressed and implemented.

To me there are 2 reasons to play "historical" games and simulations. One is to get a better understanding of History by partaking, as best we can reconstruct, in the environment / workings of the event / period.
The second is the "What If?" of history. A true Simulation gives you a start point for recreation, but rarely will it be an exact replay. Reality and "Chaos Theory" have much in common.

A "game" seeks to do so in a manageable and fun event. But when the 'game' creates, IMO, 'unhistorical' situations then what do you have? Just a game with a veneer.

I have tried to specific (and fair) about the reasons that BGHW presently seem lacking.
For me it fails the test for the above 2 reasons to play.

Chad_YMG

  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2348
    • Your Move Games
Re: First perceptions after two plays
« Reply #6 on: March 14, 2010, 02:50:03 PM »
I think the criticisms are fair.  At the end of the day I think it's a question of horses for courses.  The BGHW is first and foremost a game, and the historical factions and combat resolution are all going to have to exist within the overall Battleground system.  This means that some aspects of combat will be severely lacking.  Units won't "push" each other, they don't become disordered, fog of war is limited, etc.  Some other issues are much more specific, e.g. the debate about skirmishers.

I spent about three years developing the Punic War set, getting input from professional historians as well as a wide range of historical miniature gamers.  To put it bluntly, a lot of work went in to making the armies "right" but only within that larger overall context.  I had no interest in creating a new rules set and the only real change we made to the core rules was the modification to the range rules, making line of sight matter for all units.

So far the reception from historical gamers has actually been slightly better than I'd hoped.  Most people, especially most people buying in the $25 price range, are interested in a game that connects them with history more than a perfect historical simulation.  For them (and for me), the fact that Cannae often plays out with Hannibal winning the wings and then pinching in before his collapsing center costs him the battle is more important than the fact that other aspects of the battle will never follow historical reality due to the game system.  Same with skirmishers -- for most it seems that what matters is more that they do roughly what they did -- screen the heavy troops, potentially disrupt an army's advance and harry an unscreened enemy formation.

Ajax is more of a purist -- for him, an historical game needs to be a better simulation than Battleground provides.  I think that's entirely fair to want and it's entirely fair to point out that Battleground isn't it.  I also get how for him it means that the historical factions are actually unfun, even though he likes the system for fantasy battles.  I'm the same way with some things -- if a movie or TV show is supposed to be "realistic" I'm often completely turned off because they handle some things in a way that isn't how they work.
David Humphrey está todavía en la Colina 217.
      - From Spanish translation of Hill 218 rules

Niko White

  • Celestial Guard
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2406
  • A tíro nin, Fanuilos!
Re: First perceptions after two plays
« Reply #7 on: March 14, 2010, 03:10:37 PM »

I pretty much agree with Chad here, but I would like to point out that I'm not quite sure why people say you can't "make a legion."  We explicitly set it up so that the traditional hastati-principes-triarii legion is a very powerful formation in the context of the game.  You can definitely make it and have it be good.

I suppose it usually isn't the best plan, but that has more to do with the specific sizes of deployment zones and the points values that people usually play at, more than any weakness of the formation.  I've definitely put something like that together to hold a choke point and it works scarily well.  Similarly, if you had a different deployment zone or way more points, it'd be very strong.  I think Rome is probably one of the best factions in the game at the 4000-5000ish point level (given standard deployment zones) because it can actually get powerful utility out of deep ranks, whereas most other Battleground factions really can't.

Honestly, my only regret about the legion is that if you really want to go for it you need a deeper deployment zone if you want a skirmisher screen.  But even so, it is a very powerful formation in the game, it just usually has a similar issue as things like Celestial Guard: you don't necessarily want to concentrate your points into something with that small a footprint on the line.

lazyj

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 839
Re: First perceptions after two plays
« Reply #8 on: March 15, 2010, 11:08:44 AM »
As a quick weigh in, I have always appreciated Ajax's opinions in this forum. And I actually do agree with some of his assessments - skirmishers are starting to be irksome to play with or against, and I think I like the "feel" of the fantasy battles more.

However, as a "Historical simulations are interesting but must be fun or I'll pass" gamer, I do like the current YMG offering. I have enjoyed the Rome v. Carthage battles so far, and it has peaked some curiosity about what "actually" happened. I don't care all that much about the tiny details because it's fun and "good enough" for my limited knowledge of what happened. I feel like I'm right in the target market, and it seems to fit me just fine.

My 2 cents. This is a worthwhile discussion to have though, because I think it's good to have Chad explain some of the rationale behind the game. Diving in even deeper than the design notes so to speak.

RushAss

  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3872
  • Eat your beets - Recycle!
    • My Facebook.  Where you can see my, uh... face.
Re: First perceptions after two plays
« Reply #9 on: March 15, 2010, 11:13:17 AM »
And here's why BGHW is not a jumping the shark:  because it opens a niche for the hobby historical gamer.  When it comes to historicals, there's really two types of people:

1)  The gamers who are meticulous about making sure that the historical game is a near-perfect simulation of real world events.  They laboriously recreate every little detail and often force the game to go as the historical simulation, and thus lock the game into a pre-determined outcome.

2)  The people who don't play historicals because of group #1.

I'm clearly in group #2.  Personally, I could really care less if they are not 100% accurate since I was never a historical war gamer to begin with.  I'm not totally wild about the Historicals since I prefer the fantasy stuff, but I still think that the Historicals bring some good things to the YMG table and they integrate well with the system over all.  I would not like to see Skirmisher rules carried over into the Fantasy factions, but that's just my opinion.  My biggest concern is that the energies given to the Historicals along with a few other things like Kingdoms have slowed the fantasy production down to a crawl.  That is probably a different discussion altogether.
"We are young wandering the face of the Earth
Wondering what our dreams might be worth
Learning that we're only immortal for a limited time"
-Rush, Dreamline

ajax98

  • Guest
Re: First perceptions after two plays
« Reply #10 on: March 15, 2010, 03:34:53 PM »
Thank you all for the most interesting replies.  :)

Now I put my my $ where my ;D is.

Ajax's 'more Historical' skirmisher rules:
http://yourmovegames.com/forum/index.php/topic,1315.msg12495.html#msg12495

JoseDominguez

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 18
Re: First perceptions after two plays
« Reply #11 on: March 20, 2010, 12:53:45 PM »
If I want a fast playing, superb value for money, enjoyable war game with a historical setting, I'll go for battleground. If I want an accurate, detailed accounting of Hannibal's forays against Rome, I'll read a history book :)
I think a super detailed historically accurate game would be incredibly popular with a small minority, but the resources it would take up would slow down other releases which are surely going to appeal to far more people, be more cost effective to the company and attract more players to the game.
Then again, if that opinion offends any Historical gamers, bear in mind that I loved the movie Braveheart, so you really shouldn't be too bothered what I think :)

Hamilcar

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 172
Re: First perceptions after two plays
« Reply #12 on: May 26, 2010, 09:43:14 PM »
I appreciate Ajax's input, and I have to say I am in Hannibal's #2 group.  (Rock on, JoseD.)
I've read many books on and played many historical games imitating history.  Too many of the rules "force" an historical result, or try to.
Command & Colors: Ancients is one of the better for fun and ability to recreate... and after several games of BGHW, I would say they do a fine job as well.
Dragging, bogged, slow, overburdened historical rules... just plain suck, IMHO.  For an historical rules set, and fantasy for that matter, BG has done a stellar job of balancing accuracy/learnability/fun into one package.

Maybe it's not as much the rules as your opponent, Ajax (and this, in no way, slanders your opponent.  I know not who he was).
Just saying, that a player and their style can lead to fun and unfun experiences.  If the opponent was a fantasy-battle minded player, they may have used fantasy tactics with an historical army... makes for odd game play.  Maybe not so fun.  Or maybe you were expecting something other than what the game delivered.

Anyway, there's no one game for all players, or we'd all be sitting around playing Monopoly still !!!!  Bloody hell!  Scared myself.

Chad and Niko, I'm looking forward to the next historical release.