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Dasher
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Disillusioned... But Not Despairing Wed, 20 April 2011 21:34
I'm really disillusioned by Memoir '44's lackadaisical attitude toward play balance and historical accuracy.

Yes, I know it's a game, and I know it's supposed to be simple, and I also know that the popular wisdom says "Switch sides and play again, and see who does better!", but frankly, I apprenticed under Don Greenwood, and I understand now what he meant when he called that sort of statement "A lazy man's excuse for not doing the work to make the game right."

Well, maybe he didn't have to be that nasty about it, but I gotta tell ya, gaming never had a better friend than Don Greenwood when it came to playtesting and play balance.

Greenwood spent months playtesting titles against multiple opponents simultaneously via mail; tweaking, modifying and fixing games to the greatest extent possible before production deadlines (and even well into them), and I have yet to see a title he personally shepherded to publication that was not both accurate and exciting to play.

And incidentally, one of the last titles I saw Greenwood playtesting and evaluating at Avalon Hill before they were bought out by Milton Bradley/Hasbro was a fascinating American Civil War game called "Battle Cry", and if you've played the original version all the way through you will be amazed at how balanced all the scenarios are. That is not a coincidence.

I think what bugs me the most about Memoir '44's poorly balanced scenarios is that the solution, in most cases, is blatantly obvious: The side with the advantage should have to get more medals to win.

The outcome in a battle like Omaha Beach might have been in doubt, but historicaly the casualties suffered by the Americans far exceeded the equivalent loss of German forces, yet both sides win with the same number of medals.

By contrast, the outcome of the battle for Arnhem Bridge was a foregone conclusion (arguably before XXX Corps even started rolling up the road), yet this scenario is so absurdly imbalaned that the Online game awards an achievement badge for winning it as the Axis. This is like awarding a medal to someone anyone who has agreed to be strapped to a pole and have their back flogged raw until they manage to get the perfect combination of ideal card draws, perfect dice rolls and a poor opponent, all in one game.

Essentially, the only possible chance the Axis have to win in this scenario is if they fall ass-backwards into victory, and no amount of good tactics on their part will make any difference against even mediocre cards and dice - to say nothing of intelligent play - for the Allied side.

In short, "Arnhem Bridge" is a bad scenario. Not "poor"; BAD. QED.

Granted, changing the medal requirements won't always be the answer, but the whole "Rematch" mentality reduces the game to trivality, an exercise in mere Win/Loss tallies, when it doesn't have to be.

I titled this "Disillusioned... But Not Despairing", because I'm not about to quit playing Memoir '44; I LOVE the game. And I probably won't complain about this again, but I had to get it off my chest.

Because there are certain scenarios that are literally useless except for the purpose of gving newcomers comfidence. Whenever I teach someone the game, I always let them play the Allies in "First Wave at Omaha" or "Arnhem Bridge". In the "Arnhem" Online game I throw away useful cards once the Allies have their four medals (the two free ones for the German infantry stranded on the Arnhem side of the Rhine and the inevitable casualties of the Allied Artillery(!!!) in the town) because I just don't see the point in trying; I've lost this scenario with a 5-to-0 medal advantage, and I don't suck at Memoir '44.

I managed to eke out a 5-to-4 win in the "Omaha" scenario with a run of cards and dice so perfect I realized then and there the pointlessness of ever playing the scenario again. I will happily give up the "Omaha" badge to see this scenario fixed or deleted from the roster entirely, as the win was one of the most hollow victories I've ever tallied in any game.

I consider both "Omaha" and "Arnhem" so poorly designed that they should only be available as "Solo Play" scenarios for Allied players, since a win for the Axis in either one is completely a matter of luck, with skill having no real impact on the outcome.

And please, please, please don't anyone come bvack with the "Gosh go ahead and change the rules if you don't like it! It's your game!" It is NOT "my game"; if it were, then I could dictate the rules to be played in tournament. I could walk into a DoW event and say "Okay, this is MY game, so anyone who plays against me has to use MY rules."

Now, nobody is going to try to tell me that's going to happen, are they?

Anyway, that's my rant. Sorry if I have offended anyone, but the fact is that a tiny amount of tweaking on these - and probably other - scenarios could probably save them and make them worth playing. And the battles they portray deserve to be played, even, perhaps especially, if half the time the outcome of the game is the same as it was in the historical event.

In fact, in gaming, 50% accuracy in the outcome of a historical re-creation is exactly what you want to shoot for, because when the outcome is never in doubt, there's no reason to play the game. Sad

DASHER
      
Clexton27
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Re:Disillusioned... But Not Despairing Wed, 20 April 2011 22:07
An Alternate viewpoint:

If it was only about the GAMING I could see your point.

But a big part of what Memoir '44 does is TEACH / MIMIC history. It is meant to help folks understand the difficulties of terrain, poor tactical situations and the vagaries of war. To me the fact that I know I am in a difficult situation makes me work harder to do my best. Also, getting my butt kicked as the Allies at Omaha beach makes me realize the sacrifice those men endured on that day. Yes, to some it all about simply winning and losing, but if that is ALL it was about, my interest would end pretty quick.

Thanks!

[Updated on: Wed, 20 April 2011 22:26]

      
ChizelMonkee
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Re:Disillusioned... But Not Despairing Wed, 20 April 2011 22:34
Dasher, I think you make some pretty good points. Historically accurate or not, I find myself gravitating towards the more balanced scenarios online.

When I run our Overlord events, I'll let the teams know the w/l percentages for each side and then also the average medals won. Then at least folks can win a moral victory even if they really didn't have much chance to win in the traditional manner.

The Arnhem scenario is a head scratcher for sure. Especially disappointing when I think about how excellent I think Market Garden is for Overlord. I think they had their chance to tweak Arnhem with the Air Pack release of modified scenarios. If DOW wasn't going to to it then, I'm not sure why they'd do it now.

All of this would probably bother me more if I wasn't having so much fun playing.
      
Kelly's Hero
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Re:Disillusioned... But Not Despairing Wed, 20 April 2011 22:46
I can see and respect points made. Though I think that making certain scenarios balanced and historically accurate might not be possible..?

I used to dislike the imbalance aspect, but now I'm kind of glad it is there, especially when introducing someone new. A less-experienced player has a fair shot at winning, and I enjoy the challenge of being the underdog.

I agree a lot with what has been said of Arnhem Bridge. I've played each side one time, and it's not really a contender for my time anymore.

[Updated on: Wed, 20 April 2011 22:48]

      
50th
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Re:Disillusioned... But Not Despairing Wed, 20 April 2011 23:38
I think I talked about this once before in another thread somewhere. I have a friend who did not want to play the Germans in the overlord scenario "Battle of El Alamein". He felt the Germans did not have a chance. So another friend and I knuckled down and played the Germans, and we almost won! Because even if the scenario is unbalanced (because of historical outcome), bad cards or dice rolls are the great equalizer!

      
OldBloodandGuts
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Re:Disillusioned... But Not Despairing Thu, 21 April 2011 19:46
For the most part, I think "historical accuracy" and "play balance" are mutually exclusive. Some (though not all) of history's most famous battles were not particularly "balanced" -- the early days of the Bulge were a chaotic massacre, likewise the German offensives in France and Poland. Even battles like Iwo Jima and Okinawa -- often claimed to be the bloodiest American fights in the Pacific, boasted US-to-Japanese casualty ratios of about 1:3 and 1:7, respectively. Even battles where there was stalemate, or strategic "balance," the difference in casualties was often overwhelming: the Russians, for example, had about 400,000 more killed, missing, or wounded than the Germans at Stalingrad. And of course they "won" that battle -- the problem is, if history were a memoir game, they would have lost.

Where it does get interesting -- and the point Dasher brings up -- is that the medal count could be varied to allow for these huge differences in losses. It has always baffled me that the scenario editor allows you to pick a different number of medals for each side to win, yet none of the official scenarios (to my knowledge) take advantage of this.

Should the Japanese be allowed to suffer more casualties than the Americans in a battle like Okinawa, where casualties weren't important to grand strategy and their main goal was to slow the American attack in order to prepare defenses on mainland Japan? Probably. Should the Soviets be allowed to suffer more at Stalingrad, IF they can keep the Germans from crossing the Volga? Almost definitely.

To me, the problem is the haziness in M44 between strategy and tactics (a problem that also rears its head with the Air Rules). It is very possible in historical battles to lose tactically, but win strategically (ie., you suffer more casualties, but hold vital ground). In M44, this is less likely, even with special rules (and there are some VERY clever ones in the SFtF).

So I'm all for changing the required medal counts in some scenarios to allow one side or the other to suffer more casualties. But I'm also okay with just changing sides.
      
djedi gamer
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Re:Disillusioned... But Not Despairing Thu, 21 April 2011 20:48
unbalanced - BAAAAAD Twisted Evil

I agree with OldBloodandGuts. I propose to not play one scenario double time switching sides but to play little (2 or more) campaigns.
On the example of Eastern Front when Axis was winning almost every battle you will be experience great time with a game. If you'll play Russians then it can be really exciting to lose battle after battle but simultaneously and regularly collecting reinforcements for the next and next scenario. Remember that with this tactic Russians really won the war. And this can be very fun.

And you WILL play scenarios like Arnhem Bridge and will to lose game by game because this waste is calculated in major victory!

So, after that we need designers of that campaigns of course and probably, as I posted before, ability to do this in Memoir 44 Editor.

[Updated on: Thu, 21 April 2011 20:49]

      
Sgt Storm
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Re:Disillusioned... But Not Despairing Thu, 21 April 2011 22:18
Glory hallelujah Dasher I agree with you 100%. I brought this up in the past at various points in time and received the usual responses.

The game is great but generally the scenarios are unbalanced. Switching sides when I play face-to-face is usually not an option due to time (and anyway is a poor way to deal with the balance issue as you say), so lack of balance is particularly annoying to me.

The arguments against balance have been that historical accuracy and balance are mutually exclusive and that its too hard to balance the scenarios. The first is not true and the second, if true, is no excuse.

First off, all current scenarios could be (better) "balanced" by adjusting the victory requirements for each side based on statistics gathered either from the after-action reports (AARs) or the online game. This is not ideal, but I use this for the purposes of this argument, to show it is possible to balance and keep historical accuracy. Balancing the scenarios in this way will not alter the scenario in any other way, nor the historical accuracy, with the exception of the odds of players winning.

So then the question becomes, are the odds of the players winning an important or significant part of the historical accuracy? In other words if I change the odds of a player winning (e.g., Allies winning the First Assault Wave scenario), does this somehow downplay the historical difficulty/ease the players side experienced in the actual battle or detract from the learning experience? I think not, at least if enough care is taken in scenario design (hence the "too hard" argument). All other historical aspects can remain the same, including situation, objectives, strength and make-up of forces, initiative, etc.

For instance, in First Assault Wave, if the Germans have to, say eliminate some large number of Allied units to win and in turn the Allies have to reach and hold some actual objective they achieved in that battle, then you can have balance and historical accuracy. That is, in a scenario design, if necessary, you can both designate the original planned objectives of the battle and those that were actually achieved by the Allies. For historical accuracy you describe or teach the player what the real objectives were and then you reinforce the difficultly of the battle by only requiring the Allied player to do at least as well as what was actually achieved. That is, the player should not have to achieve the planned objective to win in all scenarios (because face it, the objectives of some battles were unattainable in reality). If the player does achieve the actual objective in the face of overwhelming odds, then you can grant him a major victory, sudden death victory, or a Knights Cross with Oak Leaves or Congressional Medal of Honor.

This, to me, is more historically accurate and provides a better learning experience. That is, requiring the scenario designer to balance, will in my opinion force him to pay attention and bring to light more details than otherwise (for example, actual achievements and planned objectives).

[Updated on: Thu, 21 April 2011 22:18]

      
tank commander
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Re:Disillusioned... But Not Despairing Thu, 21 April 2011 22:56
Well, what to say here?

Adjust the medal counts so either side has a fair chance to win. Hmmm, so even though the historical battle was heavily tilted and one side really had little chance to win, we should make it so?

A better solution might be to only offer up official scenarios on battles that were more even handed.

A good deal of scenarios fall in the 60/40 range which I think is not too bad.

There are a number that do not but I do not mind playing them in match play.

I think that very idea (match play) was in Mr Borg's mind for this system.

      
50th
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Re:Disillusioned... But Not Despairing Fri, 22 April 2011 01:52
As I said before, sometimes the historical battles were not balanced. Take the early Battle of the Bulge for example. Or the third battle of El Alamein, when Allied air attacks were wrecking havoc on Rommel's supplies, when Monty had more than double the tanks and guys because he just got supplied. But the fun is to play them anyway. And like I noted in my earlier post, sometimes due to tactics, and sometimes due to pure luck, you win anyway. But it's a game, get over it. If you want balance, play chess, checkers, and stratego!

      
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Re:Disillusioned... But Not Despairing Fri, 22 April 2011 03:37
Match play was Ok when you had only some 20 more or less scenarios.

Now you have lots of official scenarios, and gazillions of SFTF (some very good ones). I do not have the time to play them all, and I will not loose my precious playing time the same battle from the other side....
Unless the 1st battle was so exiting that my partner wants a rematch! And that mostly happens on well balanced scenarios.

I am a long time grognard that grew with SPI and AH wargames, with different victory conditions for each side. Some of them where more interested in how many units you still had than in how may units you destroyed, most depended on taking some objectives, or exiting the map, and yes, the old killing x number of units.

M44 Omaha could be balanced (as a game)if the US forces had a couple of medals to be gained by taking some of the beach exits, remember it is the 1st wave! Not the whole D-day battle.

Arnhem Bridge could be more balanced by giving medals to the germans for each taken building, and reducing the british hand a card for x british units lost.

They still will be hard scenarios, but "winnable" as a game.

[Updated on: Fri, 22 April 2011 03:39]

      
djedi gamer
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Re:Disillusioned... But Not Despairing Fri, 22 April 2011 08:11
red_zebra wrote on Fri, 22 April 2011 03:37


Arnhem Bridge could be more balanced by giving medals to the germans for each taken building, and reducing the british hand a card for x british units lost.



With Arnhem Bridge I propose to reduce bridge hexes to one. And maybe clear the way for German elite units. That's all.

[Updated on: Fri, 22 April 2011 08:11]

      
Phread
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Re:Disillusioned... But Not Despairing Fri, 22 April 2011 08:52
djedi gamer wrote on Fri, 22 April 2011 18:11

red_zebra wrote on Fri, 22 April 2011 03:37


Arnhem Bridge could be more balanced by giving medals to the germans for each taken building, and reducing the british hand a card for x british units lost.



With Arnhem Bridge I propose to reduce bridge hexes to one. And maybe clear the way for German elite units. That's all.



Then how would you balance it up for the Allies?
Infantry vs elite armour - not a fair fight.

      
Achtung Panzer
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Re:Disillusioned... But Not Despairing Fri, 22 April 2011 10:04
50th wrote on Fri, 22 April 2011 00:52

As I said before, sometimes the historical battles were not balanced. Take the early Battle of the Bulge for example. Or the third battle of El Alamein, when Allied air attacks were wrecking havoc on Rommel's supplies, when Monty had more than double the tanks and guys because he just got supplied. But the fun is to play them anyway. And like I noted in my earlier post, sometimes due to tactics, and sometimes due to pure luck, you win anyway. But it's a game, get over it. If you want balance, play chess, checkers, and stratego!


I'm with you 50th. My main interst is in the War / historical aspect of this, and the Game (being easy and fun) is a bonus. Someone else on this forum (StevenS?) has already mentioned the fun of getting happily lost in your imagination with the feel of a scenraio.

To me, it's not all about always winning.
      
djedi gamer
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Re:Disillusioned... But Not Despairing Fri, 22 April 2011 10:46
Phread wrote on Fri, 22 April 2011 08:52


Then how would you balance it up for the Allies?
Infantry vs elite armour - not a fair fight.



Axis can collect center section cards by playing their right flank and deploy these units to the center. Then they can do the massive atttack on the city. It can be done.
In time let the Allies fire with their artillery to far targets and play their center cards. If they would not do this it is a sign that you should attack from the flank first.

Other suggestion is to change the german artillery to Big Gun. But it will make game boring because of non-movement.

[Updated on: Fri, 22 April 2011 10:52]

      
Hupp234
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Re:Disillusioned... But Not Despairing Fri, 22 April 2011 16:56
Dasher,

Since you were in rant mode, this isn't an argument and I'll just add a couple of thoughts from someone who is neither disillusioned or despairing.

First, even chess is unbalanced - white has an advantage. In competitive play you switch sides. I've never been interested enough in the competitive aspects of wargaming or chess to play consistently. I'm still too caught up in with the coolness of the toys. (I buy board games as I do admire all the work that goes into perfecting the product, but I am a miniatures gamer.)

Second, when I run games using any of the C&C products at wargame conventions I have to be very careful to find balanced scenarios. Battle Cry only works that way because most of the battles in the Civil War were very inconclusive (Nashville and Grant's capture of whole armies at Ft. Donelson and VIcksburg are the only complete victories from the Civil War.) BTW I start with the basic scenarios but I always end up changing them to make them more historical IMHO (mostly terrain and troop locations.)

Third, WW2 is so varied and has so many more unbalanced historical battles, it has not been an era I have gamed much before M44. I do look for the more interesting or balanced scenarios, as all battles are not equally created in terms of being both good history and good gaming potential. The nice thing about M44 is it only takes me an hour to figure out I don't want to play that scenario again.

Fourth, DoW did a nice job in my opinion covering the whole war in a relatively short amount of time. The forum's were normally filled with lots of "why haven't you done this or that yet' and while I haven't liked everything, you got to give them a lot of credit for how much they did in a short time and the wonderful support they give to M44 on their website. The scenario editor and posting these for other players is such a great product inovation. If I had to choose to have DoW in that direction or playtest the hell our of some portion of that body of work, I think they made the right choice for me and for their business.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts and reading mine. It is interesting how certain gaming products have a way of attracting a wider range of gamers than others.

Bill



      
Clexton27
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Re:Disillusioned... But Not Despairing Fri, 22 April 2011 17:17
The GREAT thing about Memoir '44 is that while every scenario and product may not please every customer in it's balance or historical accuracy; everyone is not only FREE to discuss it, but also FREE to incorporate into THEIR OWN gameplay, the rules, setups, victory conditions, etc. that make it a truly enjoyable gaming experience for them.

I appreciate the diversity of backgrounds that make up this gaming community and appreciate the FREEDOM to have this forum. This is something I hope we all agree on.
      
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Re:Disillusioned... But Not Despairing Sat, 23 April 2011 02:15
If two players both don't want to take a challenging side in a scenario, bid for it. The player that is willing to take the most victory medals gets the advantaged side.

Say the standard scenario is 5 medals. The Axis has a 4 to 1 win ratio and both players want Axis. Player A says, "I'll play to 6 medals instead of 5." Player B says, "I'll play to 7." Player A thinks Player B is crazy for being willing to take such odds so he agrees to play the Allies.

Now Player B, as the Axis, needs 7 medals to win, while Player A, as the Allies, needs only 5. Both players feel like they got a fair shake at winning. And "balance" has been created by the unequal victory conditions.

Frankly, I've never understood why the scenario play-testers didn't just use unequal victory conditions to balance lopsided scenarios.

[Updated on: Sat, 23 April 2011 02:19]

      
djedi gamer
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Re:Disillusioned... But Not Despairing Sat, 23 April 2011 08:37
Thuddeus wrote on Sat, 23 April 2011 02:15

If two players both don't want to take a challenging side in a scenario, bid for it. The player that is willing to take the most victory medals gets the advantaged side.

Say the standard scenario is 5 medals. The Axis has a 4 to 1 win ratio and both players want Axis. Player A says, "I'll play to 6 medals instead of 5." Player B says, "I'll play to 7." Player A thinks Player B is crazy for being willing to take such odds so he agrees to play the Allies.

Now Player B, as the Axis, needs 7 medals to win, while Player A, as the Allies, needs only 5. Both players feel like they got a fair shake at winning. And "balance" has been created by the unequal victory conditions.

Frankly, I've never understood why the scenario play-testers didn't just use unequal victory conditions to balance lopsided scenarios.

Very good idea! It is kind of bidding? If so, I'm impressed so simple way to balance a scenario and additionally judge who takes which side.
      
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Re:Disillusioned... But Not Despairing Sat, 23 April 2011 10:22
stevens wrote on Fri, 22 April 2011 17:17

The GREAT thing about Memoir '44 is that while every scenario and product may not please every customer in it's balance or historical accuracy; everyone is not only FREE to discuss it, but also FREE to incorporate into THEIR OWN gameplay, the rules, setups, victory conditions, etc. that make it a truly enjoyable gaming experience for them.

I appreciate the diversity of backgrounds that make up this gaming community and appreciate the FREEDOM to have this forum. This is something I hope we all agree on.

Well said.
      
eldonion
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Re:Disillusioned... But Not Despairing Sun, 24 April 2011 09:22
Erik Uitdebroeck wrote on Sat, 23 April 2011 09:22

stevens wrote on Fri, 22 April 2011 17:17

The GREAT thing about Memoir '44 is that while every scenario and product may not please every customer in it's balance or historical accuracy; everyone is not only FREE to discuss it, but also FREE to incorporate into THEIR OWN gameplay, the rules, setups, victory conditions, etc. that make it a truly enjoyable gaming experience for them.

I appreciate the diversity of backgrounds that make up this gaming community and appreciate the FREEDOM to have this forum. This is something I hope we all agree on.

Well said.



I totally agree with the above

One of the best aspects of this game is the support, help and enthusiasm not only from the DOW staff but also from the people here on the forum.

Not only are the comments relevant (Usually anyway) but nobody is rude or obsinate and the depth of knowledge and willingness to share has to be commended.

There are not many games around that can say this.
      
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Re:Disillusioned... But Not Despairing Tue, 26 April 2011 04:35
When I read comments about play balance I can only imagine that the original combatants felt the same way... especially the vanquished.

It is a game, feel free to alter the scenarios or create your own.

Lord knows I dislike the air rules so created my own air deck... (which still needs work)
      
Dasher
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Re:Disillusioned... But Not Despairing Fri, 06 May 2011 00:49
stevens wrote on Wed, 20 April 2011 16:07

An Alternate viewpoint:

If it was only about the GAMING I could see your point.

But a big part of what Memoir '44 does is TEACH / MIMIC history. It is meant to help folks understand the difficulties of terrain, poor tactical situations and the vagaries of war. To me the fact that I know I am in a difficult situation makes me work harder to do my best. Also, getting my butt kicked as the Allies at Omaha beach makes me realize the sacrifice those men endured on that day. Yes, to some it all about simply winning and losing, but if that is ALL it was about, my interest would end pretty quick.

Thanks!


Unfortunately, Stevens, what Memoir '44 - much as I love it - is teaching about history is just plain wrong. Much of this is due to the restrictive map sizes, but a lot of it has to do with the very nature of how combat is resolved: The attacker risks nothing when attacking (barring an occasional "Ambush" card), when in fact, the very act of initiating an engagement with the enemy carries a risk of suffering casualties or dispersion.
The loss of odds-ratio Combat Results Tables (CRTs) in wargaming these last 20 years has ingrained an entire new generation of gamers with the erroneous perception that only the efforts of their opponents against them can hurt them, while their own actions can have no bad consequences for them.
And that is poor history, indeed. Sad
      
Dasher
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Re:Disillusioned... But Not Despairing Fri, 06 May 2011 01:08
Phread wrote on Fri, 22 April 2011 02:52

djedi gamer wrote on Fri, 22 April 2011 18:11

red_zebra wrote on Fri, 22 April 2011 03:37


Arnhem Bridge could be more balanced by giving medals to the germans for each taken building, and reducing the british hand a card for x british units lost.



With Arnhem Bridge I propose to reduce bridge hexes to one. And maybe clear the way for German elite units. That's all.



Then how would you balance it up for the Allies?
Infantry vs elite armour - not a fair fight.




Historically, that's very true; it's a most UNfair fight... for the armor! Armor that is unsupported by friendly infantry fares very poorly against enemy infantry which is able to get in close, as the (too) mobile British Elites in Arnhem can do.
Actually, no "balance... up" for the Allies is needed.
In Memoir '44 in general, Infantry (in this case, Elite Infantry) vs Elite Armor has little no real disadvantage if Towns or Woods are in play as they are in Arnhem.
In the Arnhem scenario, the Elite Infantry operates on interior lines with the Elite Armor getting to the party late if at all, and then trickling in on a three-hex long bridge that often serves as a force multiplier by turning every Flag against a forward or middle unit into a kill by the bridge's denial or retreat routes.
The usually first-in regular German Armor is regularly shredded by the overly-mobile Elite British Infantry, supported by two Artillery units... and what possible rationale there might be for such artillery being in Arnhem at twice the strength of local German artillery eludes me.
      
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Re:Disillusioned... But Not Despairing Fri, 06 May 2011 01:11
I think you are being a little harsh Dasher.

It is the nature of a boardgame that most moves and therefore attacks (excluding ambush) are not simultaneous.

However attacks are not without risk. A badly planned attack sequence, or a well planned one with bad die rolls will leave the attacking units exposed to the defender's attack. This is a lesson that reflects the reality of battle.

An attacker may surprise and succeed in the attack or be stopped and suffer the consequences.

M44 isn't a reenactment of WW2 battles but it can (and IMHO does) give the flavour of the battle. The scale varies between scenarios in order to use the same board, tiles and figures.

I have played military board games since the 1970's when a friend introduced me to some Avalon Hill games. They may be more realistic - but the certainly are more complicated, harder to play (more rules, tables, dice, cardboard tokens) and longer to set up and put away. I have a cupboard full of them that I have yet to introduce to my son. Some games take so long they need to be set up in a spare room and played over several days.

M44 is a great introductory military boardgame, easy to set up play and easy to put away. That's its advantage, and I agree realism isn't..
      
Dasher
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Re:Disillusioned... But Not Despairing Fri, 06 May 2011 01:16
PanzerRunes wrote on Mon, 25 April 2011 22:35

When I read comments about play balance I can only imagine that the original combatants felt the same way... especially the vanquished.

It is a game, feel free to alter the scenarios or create your own.

Lord knows I dislike the air rules so created my own air deck... (which still needs work)


That doesn't solve the problem, alas.

I can sit down at a Blackjack table and play "22" until I'm broke, but I won't find anyone willing to let me win a tournament that way. Sad
      
Dasher
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Re:Disillusioned... But Not Despairing Fri, 06 May 2011 01:19
stevens wrote on Fri, 22 April 2011 11:17

The GREAT thing about Memoir '44 is that while every scenario and product may not please every customer in it's balance or historical accuracy; everyone is not only FREE to discuss it, but also FREE to incorporate into THEIR OWN gameplay, the rules, setups, victory conditions, etc. that make it a truly enjoyable gaming experience for them.

I appreciate the diversity of backgrounds that make up this gaming community and appreciate the FREEDOM to have this forum. This is something I hope we all agree on.


While I'll still continue to hope for Official Balance Revisions, I agree wholeheartedly with Stevens' support for the spirit of free discourse of ideas and opinions in this forum.
And I REALLY appreciate that folks will let us (in this case, me) vent a little frustration without jumping all over me or thinking I am trying to destroy the game.
Hey, I have my beefs, others have theirs, and if we can all talk about them, then at the very least maybe they will bother us a little less.
This is a great game that has gathered as a following a great group of players, and I sincerely thank all of you for your reasoned DISagreements as well as your support.
And now, back to the game! Smile

[Updated on: Fri, 06 May 2011 01:22]

      
rasmussen81
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Re:Disillusioned... But Not Despairing Fri, 06 May 2011 05:35
Dasher wrote on Fri, 06 May 2011 02:49

Unfortunately, Stevens, what Memoir '44 - much as I love it - is teaching about history is just plain wrong. Much of this is due to the restrictive map sizes, but a lot of it has to do with the very nature of how combat is resolved: The attacker risks nothing when attacking (barring an occasional "Ambush" card), when in fact, the very act of initiating an engagement with the enemy carries a risk of suffering casualties or dispersion.
The loss of odds-ratio Combat Results Tables (CRTs) in wargaming these last 20 years has ingrained an entire new generation of gamers with the erroneous perception that only the efforts of their opponents against them can hurt them, while their own actions can have no bad consequences for them.
And that is poor history, indeed. Sad


As a teacher who has used Memoir '44 in the classroom, I have to strongly disagree on this point. Razz Memoir '44 is a powerful teaching tool that I would like more teachers to use!

I concede that the game isn't always as realistic as other war games on the market and that this truth probably bothers some players more than me, but the historical relevance and educational potential of Memoir '44 is undeniable. M44 is the only board game I've seen that is simple enough and accessible enough for students to learn the rules within a single class period (or for young students, two periods). It is the only World War II game that allows students to complete their game within the time constraints of the school environment. Most other games would require longer to teach and much longer to play.

While Memoir '44 does a poor job reflecting the immediate dangers of attacking (like you point out) it does a wonderful job of teaching the overall themes of World War II combat that students should learn and remember when they are studying that conflict. Students learn about the dangerous mobility that Armor brought to the battle field in WWII, they learn about the virtues of cover and high ground. They learn the importance of maneuvering troops into good tactical positions before launching an attack and they discover the dangers of Artillery. They learn about battle field confusion and commander-to-soldier communication problems through the command cards. Students get to 'see' what challenges the real soldiers faced in their different battles and they get to figure out the diferences between various theaters. Above all, students are introduced to historical battles where men sacrificed their lives to fight for their cause and they have fun learning about all of these valuable historical lessons.

You said that you're seeing a whole generation of gamers who think that only their opponents actions can hurt them. As a teacher, I'm seeing a whole generation of students who don't know very much about the sacrifices and bravery of the men who fought in World War II. Memoir '44 is a perfect tool for teaching this topic and it allows kids to see what the real battles were like in an accessible format. I'll let video games teach them about how their actions can hurt them, and I'll continue to use Memoir '44 to teach them memorable lessons about this important time in our history. Cool

No game, no matter how good it is, can perfectly reflect the actual history of this conflict. However, Memoir '44 is uniquely situated to be the best tool I have found to teach World War II history because of its accessibility and because students love playing it, while at the same time it is full of historical lessons.
      
50th
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Re:Disillusioned... But Not Despairing Fri, 06 May 2011 07:03
Well said, Rasmussen! I have nothing to add, you said it all! I give you a thumb up Thumbs Up
      
Nygaard
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Re:Disillusioned... But Not Despairing Fri, 06 May 2011 07:18
I'm with Rasmussen here. We are not trying to teach military tactics, we are trying to teach history. I've used Mem44 as an excuse for the kids to research parts of WWII and make their own scenarios based on that research. And the great thing is that you can't really make a single scenario without understanding the circumstances surrounding that specific encounter.
      
    
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