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Subject: Outflanked and Outmaneuvered rss

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James To My Friends
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Having bought Chainmail and loved it I went for Turning Point as soon as I found it. The two share the same game mechanics, nicely summed up by the name 'Battle Maneuver Series'.

Apart from the theme, the main initial difference are the number of maps/scenarios, with Turning Point having 2 to Chainmail's 4. Though at the price, Turning Point represents good value. Mind you, to my mind Chainmail also represented good value.

As you can already see in this review the word Chainmail has come up a lot. So rather than me repeating myself here I suggest you read my Chainmail review (or others if available).

That Chainmail review describes that the game mechanic works really well, providing some difficult tactical decisions in a quick and easy way. I loved the way the deck works, I love the way the battles work. So with Turning Point covering a battle from the American War of Independence and the Anglo-American war I was looking forward to finding out how the mechanics would progress to handle infantry with firearms and artillery. In my head the possibilities were great.

So with the game set up and the rules read it appeared that the similarities where quite a lot. No firearms at all. The units still attack those frontally adjacent. No mention in rules about artillery fire either, so we looked on the cards, artillery was included, but more about that later.

At first glance then Turning Point seems very very similar to Chainmail, even more than I expected. However, as we played there are some differences in Turning Point that caused me some difficulties.

Firstly, there are some of the card descriptions, particularly counter-attack. Neither the card nor the rule book explains if the Counter-Attack card can be countered by a Counter-Attack card. In the end we ended up cracking out the Chainmail set to see the text there. Wow, I had forgotten just how much text got crammed onto the Chainmail cards. But all the information is there, exactly how the Counter-Attack works is fully described. So our question was answered, the Counter-Attack can't be countered, but we had to look at a different game to find out!

Secondly, is the variety of cards in the deck. Taking from Chainmail the English deck for the Lewes scenario of the 18 cards in that deck there are 12 different types of card, leaving only six duplicates. From Turning Point, the British deck for the Freeman's Farm has 10 different cards, from the deck of 20 cards. And that's being generous, 1 of those 10 cards, is effectively a 'blank' only containing movement and battles points values. To compound this problem there are 4 of those 'blanks' in the deck. So you can see the ratio and variety is lower, and low enough to make quite a considerable difference in the gameplay. It also reduces one of the great strengths of the Chainmail game.

Thirdly, the use of Artillery seems a little weird. The artillery fires when used in conjunction with the Artillery-Fire card. The card states that the artillery units can only attack the frontally adjacent enemy unit. How mental is that. You can't set your artillery up on a hill and bombard the enemy on the other side of the map, instead you have to march it up to the front line. At least in Chainmail missile firing units could fire a distant of two squares, and over friendly units. The information on the Artillery fire card is all I have to go on, there is nothing else in the rule book, so I am assuming I am playing this properly.

This quite a short review, and doesn't really work it's own; much like the Turning Point game itself, with this review you need to refer to the Chainmail text to make sense of what is going on.

I bought this game looking for a more scenarios and a variety of theme from Chainmail, a game I really enjoy. However, this seems to be a step backwards. I don't like writing negative reviews, and I'm trying not wo be. The core game is really good, it just seems that the same level of thought and care hasn't gone into Turning Point like it did for Chainmail. Though I'm not really in any position to comment with any authority about that. Maybe it's best to say it's an opportunity missed.
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Richard Berg
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I never comment on someone's game review opinion . . .we're all entitled to react as we feel.

Two points, though:

1. TURNING POINT was designed - and developed - some time before CHAINMAIL. It's actually closer to the original system game, WATERLOO (Phalanx).

2. Vis a vis the use of artillery: as stated in the rules intro, this system is NOT intended to be a simulation of tactical warfare. It is a card game that uses battles, etc., as a basis, an info platform. While I feel that the system does mirror some tactics i nan interesting way, it's use of artillery is rather removed from reality. It does make the Artillery card most valuable though . . . which is more in linewith the game decision tension.

Oh, and you;re right . . .we should have mentioned that you can't counter-attack a counter-attack. Don't know how we missed that . . .

Thanx

RHB
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James To My Friends
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BROG wrote:
I never comment on someone's game review opinion . . .we're all entitled to react as we feel.

Two points, though:

1. TURNING POINT was designed - and developed - some time before CHAINMAIL. It's actually closer to the original system game, WATERLOO (Phalanx).

2. Vis a vis the use of artillery: as stated in the rules intro, this system is NOT intended to be a simulation of tactical warfare. It is a card game that uses battles, etc., as a basis, an info platform. While I feel that the system does mirror some tactics i nan interesting way, it's use of artillery is rather removed from reality. It does make the Artillery card most valuable though . . . which is more in linewith the game decision tension.

Oh, and you;re right . . .we should have mentioned that you can't counter-attack a counter-attack. Don't know how we missed that . . .

Thanx

RHB


Thanks for the reply Richard and the couple of points. That Chainmail was developed after Turning Point makes a lot of sense after playing them both.

Also, I note your point about the card game base and the the use of artillery. The 'removed from reality' approach was something I struggled to describe in the review, I tried several approaches and none seemed work. Can I just say though, that although the chits and map are an info platform the intense detail of the maneuvers means that the map 'state' really sucks the player in.

Thanks again for a couple of great games, especially Chainmail. Any plans for new games in the series?
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Richard Berg
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"Any plans for new games in the series?"

Yes . . . several are in the works, including CHAINMAIL II.

You should try the original, WATERLOO (Phalanx).

RHB
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Geoffrey Engelstein
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BROG wrote:
I never comment on someone's game review opinion . . .we're all entitled to react as we feel.

Two points, though:

1. TURNING POINT was designed - and developed - some time before CHAINMAIL. It's actually closer to the original system game, WATERLOO (Phalanx).

RHB


The confusion is perhaps being caused by the game description here on BGG:

Using the Battle Manuver system (first seen in Chainmail), this is a low complexity game designed by Richard Berg...

This should be updated. I don't know enough about the game's lineage, so I will leave it up to Mr. Berg or another knowledgeable party.

Geoff
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Mike Wall
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Having both Chainmail and Turning Point too, I'd like to comment on how successfully one system creates such widely separated periods of time, almost entirely by the interaction of cards and terrain.

Whereas, you need to advance in solid formation in Chainmail looking to break or flank your opponent's line, in Turning Point the combination of roads and Rapid Move cards makes for a much faster and more fluid situation. I particularly like the Freeman's Farm battle with its different avenues of advance and likelihood of smaller more fragmented engagements, while Lundy's Lane offers a more direct assault on a line.
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