Recommend
26 
 Thumb up
 Hide
11 Posts

The Halls of Montezuma» Forums » Reviews

Subject: A Disappointment rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Chad Marlett
United States
Plymouth
Michigan
flag msg tools
Wherever You Go, There You Are
badge
With no certain future, and no purpose other than to prevail
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
After initial promise, HoM has turned into a huge disappointment for me, esp. after being one of the first pre-orders years ago.

The mechanics of the game are layed-out in one of another reviews, and the publishing errors are well-documented in the forum, so this review will focus on the more fundamental issues I have with the game.

Two F2F games resulted in very easy victories for Mexico, as noted in some other comments. While I won't go so far as to say the US can't win, or even is unlikely to win, I will say that whether or not Mexico loses probably has little to do with player actions and more to do with how the reinforcements turn out, how the combat efficiency rolls go, and how the government collapse die rolls go.

The first major problem is the raid mechanic. Unlike Wilderness War, the units that raid are not placed on the map, and thus you can not set-up barriers against the raids, and there is no risk of losing units by raiding. The success is just a die roll, which is critically increased by the OPS card value. Playing a 4OPS virtually guarantees you 4 succesful raids, and only 5 are allowed per turn. Not only is this uninteresting, it forces the US to spend cards on raids just to keep the Mexican player from gaining free political will (PW).

On a similar vein to the raid problem is the use of random PW markers on each city. The fact that these markers are left out of both the rules and the setup card indicates to me that the whole idea was not thought out very well. The markers do not change the PW result of taking a city, they modify the die roll that determines the PW of each city. Since this assignment is random and unknown to both players, why does it matter? There is an action card that lets you see the counter, or switch two counters, but these are going to be equally distributed between the players, so that aspect is another pointless mechanism (e.g. I know a value, you know a value, I switch the counters, you switch them back). Since victory depends on the taking of PW cities, you are going to take every one that you can, and I very much doubt that a strategy other than the Saltillo/Monterrey offensive and the Vera Cruz/Mejico invasion are going to work, regardless of how the PW counters are randomly placed.

The second major problem is the primary reinforcement mechanisms. The first mechanism is the random action card draw at the beginning of the turn. Since the cards are not removed after used, things can easily get out of balance if one side receives reinforcements when the other does not. This can happen in a game like Wilderness War, but it is balanced by the fact that the reinforcement card is removed from the game, so the force imbalance is only temporary. Aggravating this is that the second mechanism for reinforcements is the play of an OPS card, plus a die roll - this is not good as HoM uses a 10-sided die, causing huge swings in forces available depending on how you roll. A 6-sided die or a 2d10- (difference of 2d10) would be much more balanced here.

The final fundamental problem here, and the one that is the real game-killer is the battle system. The firepower of armies that decide to fight are going to be very close in firepower and die roll modifiers.

Say the US player has an edge and engages a 20FP Mexican army with a 25FP US army, with a +1 edge in efficiency (+3 to +2). This scenario happens all of the time as the US army is better, but they are moving and the Mexicans tend to be entrenched. If the US rolls 0 and the Mexicans roll 9, the step loss differential is 2 to 10! Less extreme, however, is just the Mexican rolling average (5); this is 7 losses and the US will lose on a 0-4 roll. Not getting into raw statistics, but even a very good FP differential gives you a 25% chance of losing, at least.

The Mexicans can take a loss of this magnitude, but the US can not; the US is also unlikely to have an FP and efficiency edge as the need to move in hostile territory will leave them less potential for battle cards (remember the US had to spend one or two cards raiding) and more step losses from attrition, while the Mexican digs in and maximizes his forcepool. Keep in mind that the US is going to have to win 3 or 4 battles, so eventually they are going to pay and have a good roll/bad roll combination that hands the game to the Mexican.

Added to the above is one of the worst rules I have seen in a game - the 'Guerilla arrival' rule. The Mexican can hide a guerilla after a raid, and drop a card to bring it into a battle - automatically knocking the US army out of supply with no countermeasure. This is a 6FP shift. Any battle that matters will have the US army out of supply, thus having less FP than the Mexicans - good luck with that one, Winfield.

The battle table also screams out for a 2d10- roll, rather than 1d10. There is just way too much owing to luck here, and very little owing to what the player does and does not do. The battle could also be streamlined by removing the whole lead unit/committed unit mechanism; given the luck results of the table itself, worrying about lead and committed units adds very little.

Yes, the raids might balance out, the Mexican government might collapse early, and the US might not get out-rolled in battle, but then who won, the US player, or the game?

The theme of this game is great and I very much like the artwork, map layout, and player aid cards. However, when you add in the publishing errors, the fundamental design issues, and the massive luck inputs, I can not recommend this game.



15 
 Thumb up
0.05
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Benjamin Kindt
United States
San Antonio
TX
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Yep... Couldn't trade my copy away fast enough.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Mathew Schemenaur
United States
Keller
Texas
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmb
Nicely written review. But, I am not disappointed with the game. I like the battle system and the variable movement. I also liked the need to spend movement points to get a favorable battle position. The defender can evade multiple times causing a attackers odds of a favorable battle to go down.

I do agree that peeking at the PW markers or switching them, does not seem to make much sense at first. However, knowing that a specific location has a low likelihood to cost me political will allowed me to assign my forces elsewhere.

6 
 Thumb up
0.05
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Chad Marlett
United States
Plymouth
Michigan
flag msg tools
Wherever You Go, There You Are
badge
With no certain future, and no purpose other than to prevail
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
The variable movement is a good system and I think it fits the period.
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Karl Kreder
United States
Nuevo
California
flag msg tools
Founder of the The Wargame Bootcamp
badge
My hero Grumpy Bonaparte
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I agree with most of your points but I cannot help but like the game. I haven't played enough games to run in to these issues, but I can see how they would come up with two experienced players.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Tom Volpe
United States
Evanston
Illinois
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Great review.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Sean McKenzie
United States
Hawaii
flag msg tools
mbmb
Unfortunately, I largely agree with the review, and so am still awaiting the Great Game on the Mexican-American War. I've seen but never played Vera Cruz. I own Rush to Glory, in fact am contemplating playing it soon. Rush to Glory is an old magazine game, 10-20 years old. It was OK for a magazine game.

I agree with the review in general. I would not say that the game is neccessarily so much biased against the US.

I played at least two games, and by myself, but other friends have said much what I will say/the review has said.

In my finding, US needs to Declare War fairly quickly or they are doomed.


Otherwise, luck in the battle/reinforcement die rolls tends to win the game.

One side attacks, then other side does reinforcements and then the attacking side reinforces. Having bad luck in any one of these sequences, esp. if random events produced reinforcements for the lucky side as well, and it is largely game over.

Just about every turn except the first few perhaps, will be someone attacks, then opponent reinforces, then attacker reinforces. Somewhere along the line a blow out, largely game ending victory occurs.

If there was little combat in the first few turns, and/or no extreme luck in the first few turns, you might build up a sufficently large army to withstand an extreme loss. This will tend to favor mexico because of the US logistic situation.

But overall, very difficult to overcome the luck factor. I was very disappointed. Possibly could be salvaged by making reinforcements esp. less variable.

With respect to raids et al, I did not find this so much in favor of Mexico, as even on the defense Mexico finds it hard to get all the cards he needs. If Mexico does not handle its revolts et all things get nasty.

For both sides, after doing the attack reinforce cycle, unless some advantage was gained, you are then playing raids, revolts, events etc.

I'd like to see as they say some "fix" for this game, but believe that one way or another I am still looking to the heavens for the great Mexican-American War game.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Severus Snape
Canada
flag msg tools
Pascal said, "The eternal silence of these infinite spaces terrifies me."
badge
"The heart has its reasons which reason knows nothing of."--Pascal
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Chad, by addressing the twin problems of combat and U.S. reinforcements, among other "issues," you have highlightened the challanges I have found in my first few plays. As for the rulebook, I have never seem GMT produce this sort of howler. Ever.

goo
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Terry Perdue
United States
Miami
Florida
flag msg tools
I really enjoy CDGs, and I really like obscure wars like the Mexican War. So I read the review, and rushed out and bought a copy yesterday. So far none of the review points are invalid. The rules are rotten to say the least, and need to be reformulated.
If they will reformulate the rules, I think there is a GREAT game here. If they do not reformulate the rules, I am going to consign my copy to the shelf (where it is a nice looking box) and warn all my friends to avoid it, unless they want a nice looking box, in which case they should buy 3 or 4.
FIX THE RULES SO I CAN PLAY THIS!!!
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
John D'Angelo
United States
Michigan
flag msg tools
mbmb
The game play for me just didn't seem to flow naturally, one example of this is the supply check rule. When playing a card that has a supply icon on it, before you take your activation you have to roll to see if supply is checked (that's if you remember to, I'm pretty sure I forgot to do it at least 50% of the time).
It has a lot of little rules like this that bring play to a halt.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Steven Shryock
United States
Gillespie
IL
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
"Say the US player has an edge and engages a 20FP Mexican army with a 25FP US army, with a +1 edge in efficiency (+3 to +2). This scenario happens all of the time as the US army is better, but they are moving and the Mexicans tend to be entrenched. If the US rolls 0 and the Mexicans roll 9, the step loss differential is 2 to 10! Less extreme, however, is just the Mexican rolling average (5); this is 7 losses and the US will lose on a 0-4 roll. Not getting into raw statistics, but even a very good FP differential gives you a 25% chance of losing, at least."
Something similar to this happened to my brother-in-law on our first play of this game as he was the U.S. It's been sitting on my shelf ever since. Very disappointed.

1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.