h/t Brian Train (https://brtrain.wordpress.com/)
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Published by Paul Beakley
I founded the Indie Game Reading Club in 2010. I've written and developed RPGs since the mid-90s, now I mostly talk about playing them.
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15 thoughts on “h/t Brian Train (https://brtrain.wordpress.com/)”
It doesn’t sound a really well written system from the post.
Paolo Greco no? I wonder why it reads that way to you? It’s extraordinarily well written, so I wonder where the disconnect is.
I can probably explain it from my own experience, but my explanation probably won’t sell you on it if what the game does isn’t something you want a game to do. It’s for sure not for everyone.
I think players coming from euros will be used to certain characteristics: The difference between two good actions will be minimal. You’ll pull out a victory over many small optimizations. A plan can be relatively stable, with small deviations. Politics is a tactical tool.
These are all broken, not just in COIN, but pretty much all wargames.
A quick example: card comes up that lets me give people actions out of turn, I just need to choose who. Averni (green, Gary Kacmarcik) are killing it, and just need one good strike on the Romans (red, Joshua Yanchar). Belgics (yellow, Sage LaTorra) are doing alright, but are better positioned to strike Gary than I am (Aedui, blue).
I negotiate with Sage to get a good blow in on green while keeping the Romans alive. However, this gives him the move he needs to gain control in an important province. No problem, I think, we should have time to deal with that.
Couple cards later, it’s frost: no March, no good way for Rome to deal with Sage’s armies for control.
I agree with Paolo Greco: the way this blog is written makes it seem like the COIN rules are incomprehensible… but, then, I find all boardgame rules incomprehensible until I actually play them.
If I had a real beef with COIN, it would be that each move is written in this hyper dense and conditional way. Like the basic idea of an action is, say, add some stuff to the map. But the move is actually written “if you have support in the space, for every two green cubes add a yellow cube, but if you have a fort there you can also add x, but if you already have three x, instead you can change one of them into a fort, but if you have a fort and a leader then instead you get y.” That’s a huge drag until you internalize it.
Honestly I think they could IKEA-ize the rules, you know? Visually represent what’s going on and it all gets a lot easier. But it’s a wargame and the rules need to carry a certain level of precision.
Yeah, starting with the base case would help the moves a LOT.
I found this to be true of the body of the rules as well. My first read-through was a train-wreck, I stopped about halfway through and made a little list of questions about the basic structure of the game and skimmed for those answers, and then re-read much more successfully. An overview at the very beginning would have helped enormously.
(Even something as simple as starting the rules text with the turn-state box from the board and an explanation of how it flows would be an improvement. That information is certainly there, but it’s kind of buried.)
Devin Binger they actually do a pretty nice job of both sketching out the overview of the move, as well as its implications vis a vis other moves, in Falling Sky. In fact I’ve never seen so much editorializing, and I thought it was a move in the right direction. But you have to read that in Teh Roolz, they don’t get repeated on the cheat sheets you use during play.
But even then. Even then! I’m reading along and some move is all “you do this to disrupt Rome’s ability to maintain local control” or whatever, and then I read the cascading conditionals, and my instant reaction is lies!
I started on cuba libre, still have not read the bot rules or the playbook (more time reading = less time playing!). I just did a playthrough myself before playing with friends. Great. We are hooked.
Are the COIN rules the sameish for every game?
Same core, different modifiers.
Paolo Greco same-ish.
I thought the shift in victory conditions in Falling Sky made it a pretty different game from Liberty or Death, which I found favorably similar to Fire in the Lake — different faction setups and relationships, too. I think LOD and FitL are both similar to A Distant Plain in terms of victory and factions, so all three of those are to my mind in the same zip code.
Adam is probably scratching his head as to why I had such a hard time with Falling Sky! Seriously, it was really hard for me.
If you went ADP to FS, that’s a crazy transition. They’re both huge entries in the series. Totally understand having a hard time. We really should try to arrange a vassal game.
Adam Blinkinsop my sequence:
1) Fire in the Lake
2) Liberty or Death
3) Falling Sky
4) A Distant Plain
1 -> 2 wasn’t bad at all. Like I said, similar relationships were a huge help. To my mind, understanding the dynamic is more important than understanding the actions, you know? Like, it’s no big deal to me that LoD battles don’t look anything like FitL battles.
Yeah, LoD has very similar dynamics to FitL. FS isn’t much like any of the others, and ADP is super-different, too.