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Gathering of Engineers

Ludographic considerations from the Silicon Forest

Thursday, September 29, 2005

I was just sitting here at work checking the GoE blog to read the latest entry and was disappointed to find that it hadn't been posted yet. It slowly dawned on me that the reason was because it was my turn........ Ack!

(Hey, cut me a break here, I'm practicing for senior moments.)

So, to continue where I left off last week, about dice, or along those lines. Normally I have a pretty much hate:hate relationship with dice in games. However, that doesn't mean I dislike dice in games, I can live with them sometimes. They're just a way of randomizing an outcome and could be cards or any other such.

Recently I was playing Wellington, the new (ish) GMT game on the Peninsular campaign, for the first time. (A great subject btw, different and it piqued my interest because of the Sharpe tv programs, which are very well done. Enough action and totty for the guys, Sean Bean and romance for the ladies. The stories are fairly well researched and stay close enough to the history to allow Sharpe to be the hero without having to totally rewrite history. Like they did in Braveheart, for example, with historical liberties all over the place. Highly recommended. Actually that makes a great present for my wife, but the boxed collection is $300. Wow! Maybe not. Back to the main story....) This game has you rolling dice for battles dependent on how good your generals are, number of troops, cards played, inside leg measurement, etc. Ok, maybe not that last one. Anyway, you each throw a bucketfull of dice and work it out. The problem is that with so many dice being thrown the bell curve is pretty wide and the ends give some really wacky results.

I was commenting about this (ok, whining, because I was on the wrong end of the bell curve; Cooley Effect, etc.) and Eric pointed out that there seems to be just as many dice rolled in other games, e.g. Manifest Destiny, one of my favorites. I also played Rommel in the Desert later, another with copious amounts of dice wristage, and I had no problems with that one. So why are dice ok here and bleah there?

At least in Manifest Destiny you have small battles that allow you to rethink strategy, you get to choose whether to continue the 'attack' or do something else. In Wellington it's all or nothing, with no way to change plans if things aren't going your way. Especially since the outcomes in Wellington can be dramatic and your entire force goes up in a puff of (cannon) smoke and you've no idea what cards the other player has that can screw with you. (An extension of that is if you've no idea of the range of cards that could be played. Knowing the range and card counting is very important in these CDG type games.)

In RitD you'll suffer some hits, but it's unlikely your entire force will get zapped in one go. (Unless it's small and facing a larger enemy force.) You will be able to retreat and save something.

In the Wellington case I think, in retrospect, that it was a little of everything. Certainly the card play caught me by surprise, when a good attack became a rather bad one on the play of the cards. And then the die rolls at opposite ends of the bell curve compounded it. Just seemed a little hokey. However, I'd still be interested in playing again. Certainly, knowing the possible range and effect of the cards, I'd play differently.

OK, well, maybe that wasn't in the same vein as Eric was discussing, but I tend to just type my train of thought. Sometimes it gets to the station and sometimes you just end up in a tunnel.

Before I stop for this week, I'll pick up on Doug's evangelising theme a little. I've been doing a lot of bringing Euro games to the masses, both here at work and in the local library. I now have a weekly general games session on Thursday lunchtime at work, and we also play Carcassonne on Tuesday lunchtimes. The library sessions run twice a month, and are more focused on family gaming. Both have had their small successes, and pretty much everyone who's come along has enjoyed playing, and several have gone on to buy some of the games. I certainly plan to keep bringing this hobby to the masses. Whether they want it or not.


  • At 9:12 PM, Blogger Dug said…

    It's all about when you roll well or poorly.

    What is wacky about Wellington is that literally 20 card plays can affect an important battle, and many of those cards come up after dice are rolled. The effect is that you put a lot of effort into a single battle to swing it your way only to discover that the other player has one more battle card than you...

    Of course, since cards are used to do pretty much everything else in the game, you limit your strategic capability by blowing everything on one battle, but that's part of the fun of Wellington.


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