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World at War: Blood and Bridges» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Initial Out of the Box Impressions rss

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This is a very preliminary review of the components and initial impressions of the game. I have not yet played any scenarios (though I have played Eisenbach Gap-I enjoyed it-that's why I bought this game to begin with). Its a very good game system, but a review of the system may come later.

The game offers a very attractive package, but frankly, the graphic design leaves a lot to be desired. I played Eisenbach Gap about 1-2 years ago, and while I enjoyed it, opening BnB reminds me of some of the graphics flaws from that game.

The good stuff: everything is quite attractive. The two player aid cards are great. The rulesbook is extremely attractive (multicolor). The map, with one glaring flaw, is really good looking. The terrain features are all-maybe not 'realistic', but 'convincingly realistic'. In other words, they look good (without looking like a satellite photo) yet easily distinguishable and understandable. I've scanned the rules, and it is generally clear.

The bad stuff:
The Map: The hills are not distinguishable enough. A map creator is in a bit of a dilemma with hills: on the one hand, if you want it to look realistic, hills would be the same color as surrounding terrain (after all, grass on hills is not a different color than grass on non-hills). But to make those hills distinguishable, they have to be different (thus, for instance, in Squad Leader, ground level is green, and hills are brown). In this game, the 'hill' indicator is a light white line on a light green (grass) background (With some darker shading). You can see it if you try-but you shouldn't have to try.

If you have the full map in play, and stand up to see the whole thing (to see avenues of approach, to get a feel for the map as a whole), the hills don't stand out (this is particular true of very small hills, and of wooded hills. For example, the two hills in the north-center-just east of the Rhine River: one is a small hill, one is a wooded hill). It probably doesn't matter if you're playing a small scenario and can see the whole map at a glance. But it matters when scanning the whole map.

B-

The Rules: I personally don't like little jokes in rules (the historic worst example is the first rulebook for East Front Series computer game, that came out about 10 years ago. It was so bad, they issued a 2nd printing and publically apologized). This rulebook has several of them.
Independent of that, there are a few (perhaps minor) problems. The explanation of "Hey, one of my Formations Didn't Activate" is poorly worded (in fact, in spite of the corrections written here and at Consimworld, its still not clear what one has to do). I pointed out, in a different post, confusion over the 'Move HQ' rule. Whether they are complete or not, they are confusing. I haven't played in a couple of years, but I can remember that there are lots of little things to memorize (related to special weapons, and special modifiers-for HQ, for helicopters, for different types of artillery, etc), and when I played last, I spent a lot of time looking up each peculiar weapons system as it entered play. I'll wait to see if they remain as quirkly as I am thinking. Nevertheless, the color and presentation are very good.

There really should be scenario cards rather than just typed lists (Scenario X: Russian forces: 10x T-80, HQ, 2x BMP-2, etc. Map, use mapboard east of hexrow AD, and south of the 26 hexrow, etc etc. This is tedious to read).

B (A for color and overall organization, downgraded for instances of unclarity and bland scenario presentation).

Counters:
I've played the system, I like the system. I like the colors. But to be honest, in spite of those colors, the counters are a graphics disaster. My guess is they were designed in a graphics program (Illustrator or Photoshop) which allows one to blow them WAY WAY UP (600%! 1600%!), and when blown WAY WAY UP, the counters looks great. They have a beautiful image, the numbers make sense, the colors on the screen are vibrant.

But then, you print them way.way.down. 100%. They are on paper. They are just over 1/2 inch square. They are nearly unreadable.
1) The background colors are dark (dark red for the Soviets. Dark green for the Americans.). The numbers on the dark background are very difficult to read.
2) The numbers are too small. What looked good at 600% (AP value with a range and firepower superscript) looks tiny at 100%. So tiny, its difficult to read. So tiny, its difficult to see colors (which matters: a black number and a blue number mean different things, and they are difficult to distinguish).
3) There are unnecessary red/tan stripes on the left side of the soviet counters that make them additionally difficult to see (instead, imagine if the whole counter were that lighter red-tan background).
4) the circle around the soviet movement value (indicating move-fire capable) is red. On a dark red background.
5) Formation indicators (i.e. 49MRR) just aren't distinct from each other, and thus don’t immediately stand out. Again, it matters in the game.
6) the White font of those formation indicators, as well as of the unit descriptions (i.e. 'T-80') again, because of the dark background, are difficult to read.
7) The colors indicating full strength (tan) and half strength (white) are too similar.
8) There are as many as ELEVEN numbers on a counter (worst example?: see the Soviet 93rd RC: its got 11 numbers in four different colors, two of which have a circle or underline, an additional R indicating Recon, the unit name, and the equipment name. The counters are, I think, 9/16” square). This may be unavoidable, given the game system as designed. But if you’re going to have that many numbers on that much space, you are obligated to make them as readable as possible.

D: Great color. Great vibrancy. Great vehicle images. Very poor design.

Paraguay
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Wulf Corbett
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Paraguay wrote:
I've played the system, I like the system. I like the colors. But to be honest, in spite of those colors, the counters are a graphics disaster. My guess is they were designed in a graphics program (Illustrator or Photoshop) which allows one to blow them WAY WAY UP (600%! 1600%!), and when blown WAY WAY UP, the counters looks great. They have a beautiful image, the numbers make sense, the colors on the screen are vibrant.

But then, you print them way.way.down. 100%. They are on paper. They are just over 1/2 inch square. They are nearly unreadable.

I wouldn't go quite that far, but it's a complaint I have made of many other games, and I blame exactly the same thing - designing the counters blown-up on a well-lit computer screen. The old Avalon Hill ASL counters were no great shakes graphically, but you could READ them...
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Bartman
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Just on initial reading, I can agree with some of your points.

Perhaps you could post your review of gameplay as well, since you do seem to like the game. The review comes off as an overall negative review, but I sense that your opinion of the game is overall positive.

BTW, I like the little asides and joking comments in the rules. It breaks up the technical-manual-feel you can sometimes get when reading rulebooks.

Cheers,
Bart
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xx
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I might do a gameplay review. I'm playing with two newbies on Friday.
As I said, i like the game system. I played Eisenbach Gap twice or three times about a year ago, and really enjoy the simplicity (except for the fiddliness of each unusual weapons system) yet deep level of decisionmaking. I like the sense of tradeoff with each decision. I generally don't play modern wargames (more into WWII), but this really is a good fun system.

Paraguay
 
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Ethan McKinney
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Paraguay wrote:
3) There are unnecessary red/tan stripes on the left side of the soviet counters that make them additionally difficult to see (instead, imagine if the whole counter were that lighter red-tan background).


Hmmm. I don't have the system, but the HQ units don't have the vertical stripe and some units have the vertical stripe only above or only below the horizontal stripe. Is that some sort of indicator?
 
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Wulf Corbett
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elbmc1969 wrote:
Paraguay wrote:
3) There are unnecessary red/tan stripes on the left side of the soviet counters that make them additionally difficult to see (instead, imagine if the whole counter were that lighter red-tan background).

Hmmm. I don't have the system, but the HQ units don't have the vertical stripe and some units have the vertical stripe only above or only below the horizontal stripe. Is that some sort of indicator?

I thought they were to make the red numerals more visible. Which it does. It's only present on counters with numbers at those locations (even if they're not red).
 
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Steve Caires
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I have to agree with some of Paraguay's points. Being unfamiliar with the B&B map, on my second game I actually completely missed a few of the hills on my opponent's side of the map, 22 inches away. My fault, yes, but it did cause the better part of my battalion to be wiped out by his challengers.

On my homemade counters, I had to add a small red dot to the reduced sides just so I could see when units were reduced at a glance. With the boxed counters, I keep mixing them up, especially from a few feet distant and when buried in a stack.

I think the saving grace for the counters is that you can pretty quickly internalize most of the values, (although this was true more for EG with its fewer unit types) making it less necessary to try to read them constantly during gameplay. The font choice still makes some numbers hard to distinguish, however.

For the scenarios, I would have liked a tiny map to go with each description, showing the playable area, victory locations, and deployment locations. As is, I have to hunt around the map and place dummy counters on the specified hexes to get an idea of what I'm actually supposed to be doing in the scenario. As for the forces, it might have been nice to have a small box showing counter images instead of a text list. I do like the descriptions and how they're tied together into a linear story.

Of course, all of these are minor quibbles, as the game is quite fun to play. I'm looking forward to trying some of the larger scenarios.
 
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Joel Tamburo
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On the bright side, the counters for Nations at War (the WW2 version of this series) are apparently changing the size and font on the numbers to improve readability.
 
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Wulf Corbett
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Joelist wrote:
On the bright side, the counters for Nations at War (the WW2 version of this series) are apparently changing the size and font on the numbers to improve readability.

Which, unfortunately, only reinforces the complaints about these ones...
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Jackson Riker
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Well yeah, but Improvements are still a very good thing and even in our ridiculously cynical world, should be applauded.
Remember the white hex borders from the original LnL?
Long gone and now barely remembered, so too will the overcrowded counters....
 
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Wulf Corbett
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jacksonriker wrote:
Remember the white hex borders from the original LnL?
The ones I have, you mean?

I''m not complaining about improvement, but I'm certainly not the only one complaining about the WaW counters. And it's too late now to change them, with so many already printed. It's certainly not the only game with hard to read counters, but they've been hard to read since the first game appeared, that was the point at which someone could have changed things - World at War: Eisenbach Gap had a very small counter sheet that could reasonably be replaced, or at least offered as a download.

And I bought the halo hex map version because it was offered cheap, by the way. They might be unsightly, but they don't actually impede play.
 
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kookie antonio
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i agree with you, LnL should offer the counters as downloads so we can make thicker counters from what comes in the box.
 
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