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Subject: Best starting game? rss

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A L D A R O N
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Is there a particular game that experienced COIN players would recommend as a first COIN game?

My main concern is stability and clarity of rules. GMT is notorious for poor rules and poor rules proofreading, so I'd like to avoid the usual ritual of reading messing with errata and addenda and changes and just have a set of rules that I can rely on. Is there a game in the series that fits that bill?
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Jay M
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Aldaron wrote:
Is there a particular game that experienced COIN players would recommend as a first COIN game?

My main concern is stability and clarity of rules. GMT is notorious for poor rules and poor rules proofreading, so I'd like to avoid the usual ritual of reading messing with errata and addenda and changes and just have a set of rules that I can rely on. Is there a game in the series that fits that bill?
I prefer Fire in the Like as the best one to start with, because it is the perfect marriage between the COIN system and the theme (historical setting). So the natural orientation of the parties "nudges" you in the direction of what the system has so wonderfully accomplished with assymeterical warfare, support/opposition, etc.

I reject the premise of your question though. GMT is the greatest game company of all time, and its rule books are the product of time, talent, and experience. You will find the rule books for the COIN series (and card-driven wargames generally) to be the most rigorous and internally consistent around. If you have been told differently, you've been told wrong. If you have experienced it yourself, I'd like to know what company it is you see as one that does rule books right.
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Sean McCormick
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I think the best one to start with is Colonial Twilight: The French-Algerian War, 1954-62. A new player is going to feel more in command of what they are doing when there is only one other player for them to have to deal with, and the relative lack of downtime will also make the system more appealing.
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Krister Dahlgren
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Well, first of all,
Aldaron wrote:
My main concern is stability and clarity of rules. GMT is notorious for poor rules and poor rules proofreading...
In my experience (about 50 GMT games) this is simply not true. I vastly prefer the GMT/common-wargame rules format with numbered paragraphs over the more common "just put every rule somewhere in the book" format as it makes rules referencing much easier. I have never understood why some gamers think that a header like 3.1.1 Moving units is horrifying, while Moving units is just fine.

I am not saying that GMT makes perfect rules, in fact they have made their share of really poor rulebooks (Blackbeard and Prussia's Glory comes to mind, and more recently Hitler's Reich) but in general I think they are among the best ones. Most of their high-profile games also includes a playbook or similar with a short but informational walkthrough and other examples as well.

With that out of the way,
Aldaron wrote:
Is there a particular game that experienced COIN players would recommend as a first COIN game?
I honestly think they are similar enough that you can pick the game which conflict is of most interest to you. Difficulty-wise, I would way that Colonial Twilight is the simplest one as it is designed for 1-2 players only. Of the 1-4 player games, I would rate Cuba Libre as the easiest one to learn, followed by Andean Abyss (first game in series, so less chrome, bells and whistles), then Falling Sky, A Distant Plain and Liberty and Death at more or less the same difficulty. Fire in the Lake and Pendragon stand out in my opinion as the more complex ones to learn.
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Juan Valdez
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Aldaron wrote:
My main concern is stability and clarity of rules. GMT is notorious for poor rules and poor rules proofreading...
I have played many different GMT games and have never had any problems with the rules.

In my experience, GMT rules are best of breed, even considering an occasional misfire.

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Piotr Wołoszun
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+1 for Colonial Twilight
 
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Mark Evans
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mtngrown wrote:
Aldaron wrote:
My main concern is stability and clarity of rules. GMT is notorious for poor rules and poor rules proofreading...
I have played many different GMT games and have never had any problems with the rules.

In my experience, GMT rules are best of breed, even considering an occasional misfire.

I don't want to derail the thread but I do have to take exception here. Most Richard Berg (that is Berg not Borg), Ted Racier, and Mark Herman rules on the first go (first edition) are hard to follow and have some gaps. Some of the one and done designers have pretty bad rules (Mr. Madison's War, Fields of Fire, and Clash of Monarchs). On the flip side Chad Jensen and Volko Runkhe are awesome at writing rules. It depends on how you sample the GMT catalog I suppose.

The COIN series has great rules sets and the designers are very active in maintaining the rules. Some of the reprint editions had some editing errors which didn't exist in the originals and that is regrettable but overall the system is solid.

To the original question. I think the narrative is important and would urge you to pick a game that captures your imagination and passion. The easiest of the bunch is Cuba Libre.
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Chris Laudermilk
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To pile on a bit, my experience with GMT's rules is like pretty much everyone else responding: IMHO they are among the best I've seen. Are there mistakes? Some clarifications needed? Sure. But these are generally complicated games. That said, I've seen a heck of a lot worse.

Now back to the which COIN question. The default answer is "the one covering the conflict/theme that most interests you." While I only own three of the series--Liberty or Death, Pendragon, and Falling Sky in order of acquisition--once I wrapped my head around the general COIN concepts, I was more than halfway there on the subsequent games. Pendragon is the one that I really grasped how things worked, in particular the bots.
 
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Gus I
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+1 for Cuba Libre. It is short and the tactics are easy(ish). It is also a good excuse to watch the Godfather II. Falling Sky is also one of the smaller games but (imho) it is not as asymmetrical as CL. Of course if one of the topics really grabs you then the choice is made for you.

I found that GMT rules are pretty good. Maybe it just depends on the designer. Volko Runke and Ed Beach have clear rules with very extensive examples. I also really like Empire of the Sun, Pericles: The Peloponnesian Wars and The Library of Napoleonic Battles yet I have to read those rules over and over again. Maybe they have too many new concepts. I do like the very extensive examples in the COIN playbooks.
 
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Mark Boulter
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COIN games are IMHO fun to play, but can be tough to learn.

e.g.

In Cuba Libre the games uses the concept of map spaces, one type of which is referred to as Economic Centres (EC's).

There are 3 of these spaces in total.

Here is the extracted rules that refer to these spaces, copied from the latest rules in number order :-

Economic Center (EC)

DESIGN NOTE: ECs represent zones of economic activity important to the government — such as sugar, mining, and tobacco—the majority owned by US corporations.

1.3.4 ECs. Each Economic Center (EC) shows an Economic value (Econ) of 2 or 3 affecting Government and Syndicate Resources (1.8).
1.4.2 Stacking. Bases and Casinos may not occupy ECs.
1.6.2 NOTE: ECs (1.3.4) have no Population and never hold Support or Opposition.
3.2.2 Garrison [GOV Op]. Garrison Operations protect ECs by moving Troops or Police to them and finding and removing Guerrillas there.
3.2.4 Assault. [GOV Op] It may occur at any EC. In each selected EC, remove 1 Active Guerrilla (1.4.3) for each Troops cube there. In an EC also remove 1 enemy piece for each Police there.
3.3.2 March. [Insurgent Op] It may occur at any EC. 0 Resources to move to ECs.
3.3.3 Attack. [Insurgent Op] It may occur in any EC.
3.3.4 Terror Ops. [Insurgent Op] In ECs, place Sabotage markers that block Government Resource earnings (6.2.1); 0 costs for ECs.
4.2.2 Air Strike. [GOV SA] It may occur in any EC.
4.3.1 Infiltrate. [July26 SA]. It may occur in any EC.
4.3.2 Ambush. [July26 SA]. It may occur in any EC.
4.3.3 Kidnap [July26 SA]. It may occur in any EC. Must have more 26July Guerrillas than Police. Needs Terror Op [Place Sabotage]. Target is GOV.
4.5.3 Muscle. [SYN SA] It may occur in any EC.
6.2.1 Government Earnings. First, Sabotage any ECs where 26July plus Directorio Guerrillas outnumber cubes.
6.4.1 The Government may move any Police at any ECs.
6.4.2 The Government must move any Troops on ECs to Govt-Controlled spaces (1.7) that either are Cities or have Government Bases (if no such spaces, then to Havana City).

I have (in the interests of space) omitted any context to the rules section heading. e.g. Resources Phase

Adding the asymmetrical nature of the game essentially means you need to assimilate 4 sub-rule sets. Not impossible by any means but tricky.

The BOTS help learning the game but suffer from a frustration factor related to the logic portrayed by the flow charts; not always clear.

So, in summary great game, steep learning curve, need to sink a lot of time to get the strategy/tactics understood.
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Gus I
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The COIN game engine is quite different from hex and counter games like ASL and also totally different CDG multi players like HIS.

The cards are more like external events that the players try to manipulate together with the flexible turn order it can feel a bit chaotic compared to traditional games.

The game engine is pretty straight forward though and once you play an epoch you should see how it works.

I just love all the different ways you can combine operations and special actions. It makes for extremely creative game play. If you see games as puzzles this should appeal.
 
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andrew
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If you're the right sort of person GMT rules are genuinely fine.

For the average gamer Joe, this may not be the case?

Reading this thread is like watching Usain Bolt talk about how 10 seconds is pretty much average.
~ laughs ~
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antiussentiment wrote:
If you're the right sort of person GMT rules are genuinely fine.
If you mean a person who likes and expects multiple extensiver errata and a prodigious rate of errors and omissions, then yes: that sort of person would find the rules to be “fine”.
 
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Matthias Mahr
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seanmac wrote:
I think the best one to start with is Colonial Twilight: The French-Algerian War, 1954-62. A new player is going to feel more in command of what they are doing when there is only one other player for them to have to deal with, and the relative lack of downtime will also make the system more appealing.
This. However regarding the rules issues of the OP, the Example of Play in the printed Play Book is full of errors. Be sure to use the Living Playbook from the site instead.
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