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Conflict of Heroes: Storms of Steel! – Kursk 1943» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Eurowargame rss

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Ondřej Vašíček
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The hype around Conflict of Heroes: Awakening the Bear persuaded me to preorder second game of CoH series, the Kursk one. It seemed really great - innovative activation system simulating "real-time" battles, promises from author, that playing the game = using real-war tactics and it is verified by many players: Successful wargame with high rank on BGG, which was even polished in its "second edition". For nitpicker and military history buff like me, gun-and-armor stats for main vehicles were OK (Panther's gun better than Tiger's, for example). And great eye-candy game components. So I tried.

The game was a big disappointment for me and I am curious, that many wargamers like CoH. I have no ambition to write detailed review, but I will appoint some not-so-good things in this game (essays were written about the better part of CoH, so it is not necessary to rewrite them).

Components

The counters are Euro style. I, personally, prefer “classic” die cut counters instead of “Fantasy Flight” type of counters, but someone may like better these euro-style ones. Pictures on the counters are cheap – photographs of painted miniatures. They look OK in case of vehicles (but Eskubi’s works are 100times nicer), but soldiers look unnatural. Cards have nonconsistent mixture of black-and-white historical photos, colored images and photos of painted models (in case of artillery). The worse are “trait” cards – all of them have the same picture of 3 medals, i.e. 0 immersion.

Components are not a big issue at all, I am writing this only because components of CoH are often praised – they are not bad, but not excellent either.
The system

Action Points

CAPs and APs are very innovative and fresh, I appreciate the try of making something new and revolutional to simulate warfare, but the result is not perfect (to be honest). CoH plays more like Eurogame settled in ww2 scenery, than like simulation of squad level fighting: CoH is about effective use of resources, effective allocation of CAPs and APs is crucial. So, you are trying to force your opponent to waste his APs or CAPs or use them less effectively rather than outflanking enemy troops, preparing defenses or assaults etc.
To be concrete:
Your opponent has activated unit on one side of the map, which has 1/2 of its APs still available. A good strategy is to activate unit on the other side of the map and attack – your opponent will have to chose 1) waste 1/2 of APs of already activated unit and activate a new one to react on your moves 2) Use “opportunity fire” and waste all APs of one of his units for just one action 3) Use scarce CAPs to react. All choices are a “bad ones” and good player chose the best of these bad options. But this has nothing to do with real warfare or real combat tactics… This was only short example (one of many) how mechanics can work and how “good players” use gamey tactics to force opponent to use APs and CAPs ineffectively. Eurogame.

And APs definitely benefits the player with more units on map or the passive one (the defender): the player with more units have more APs (since all units have 7APs, the more units = the more APs in total) and the passive player can pass a few actions, when the active player must move forward (to achieve victory conditions), after the active player have moved all his units, the passive one would have some “fresh” units left to do whatever he wants. This also leads to some gamey tactics or eurostyle gameplay (as an active player, you can “save” some CAPs to possible reaction on defender’s moves, but they can be wasted if defender passes also; so it is again crucial to use CAPs effectively, not to use real warfare tactic).

Hit chits

When a unit takes hit, player draws (secretly) a chit on which is written what happened. It varies from almost nothing (troops are unnerved) to severely worsen morale or (in case of vehicles) bad damage. Second hit (or really bad first hit) means unit elimination. In case of vehicles, the mechanic works great. Good AT canons can easily eliminate enemy targets just by one shot, average shot means hit, second hit eliminates a vehicle, which is OK. One can imagine that second hit worsen morale of already demoralized crew and they bailed out or second damage made the vehicle practically useless etc. In case of infantry, the mechanic plays weird: first hit is always “worse morale” and very often it is “light” worsening. So, you can “heal” your unit by card or by successful roll and the unit is again fresh without a scratch, but second hit on already shaken troops means total elimination of whole fireteam or squad. Imagine situation, where your fresh panzergrenadiers suffered lucky shot from poor enemy infantry and received “unnerved” chit (no effect on unit, just hit marker lying on them). These guys are all OK, no causalities, and morale relatively good – no effects on their fighting capabilities. What would you do, commander? Common sense tells – put them into fight, they are barely scratched! But that would be a big mistake - second similarly weak shot will eliminate whole unit! So, player is forced (against common sense) to handle every hit marker with attention, because even almost “no-effect-one” severely reduces defense of your unit. The game is strangely bloody, strangely nothing-or-kill, because there is no gradual worsening of unit morale, there are no step losses, there is only full unit or dead unit.

Cards

CoH has the worst implementation of card-support I have seen in wargame. I like CDGs and wargames which use cards to add chrome, flavor and gameplay, but forget about it in CoH. Cards are one purpose only, so you can use them only for their “event” and sometimes you hold a card which is completely useless (because it does not fit to your situation – it is good for defenders (building defenses, for example) and you attack) and sometimes, they can destroy or cripple key unit in scenario. The cards add more uncontrollable chaos, uncertainty and randomness into already random game, while they add little or zero “hand management” (you receive fixed amount of cards each turn – use them or not) or choice. This would be OK if cards have added some kind of immersion, flavor or chrome, but in CoH, most of cards have names like “+1D6 APs”, “Move 2 hexes” or “Mark as used” and “do” effects obviously recognizable from their names . No story behind cards – they are cold game-mechanic, which add no real warfare tactic, only little decision and absolutely no flavor…

Flaws

All above could be tolerable, but the game is full of broken mechanics and flaws, which destroys the rest of feel ofww2 squad level wargame:

Antitank guns
Antitank guns have low “blue” armored (armored vehicles have “blue defense”) frontal defense, because they have thin steel gunshield and “red” soft flank/rear defense. This blue defense makes ATGs well protected against infantry fire (even from heavy machineguns - ahistorically), but infantry can smash them from rear or in close combat – this designer decision looks relatively wise on first sight, but… Who is the best killer of ATGs? Panther! Because he has the highest “blue” factor (he has the best antitank power). And what is the best ATG strategy against Panther? Face your ATG’s rear/flank, because there, your gun has “red” defense factor (for soft targets) and Panther has relatively low “red” (antipersonnel) power.
Imagine real situation, where German tankists see Russian ATG: “Load APCR ammo, we should penetrate their weak shield!“ “Damn, we have no chance, they turned their gun back and we must use our useless HE ammo…”
The author promises, that his game forces players to use real-war tactics. In case of ATG vs Tank combats, this promise is ridiculous.

Trucks
Unarmored trucks and halftrucks have “red” defense, so they can be relatively easily destroyed by infantry fire, but tanks have serious problems - it is easier for most of them to destroy weakly armored vehicle (like t70), than ZiS-5 truck. I cannot imagine a situation in which an unarmored vehicle transporting fuel (like in one scenario) is harder target than light tank for 75mm tank gun and coaxial MG.

Antitank fire
Antitank fire is done by one 2D6 roll, adding firepower and comparing to enemy unit’s defense. This one dieroll is abstraction of probability of hitting the enemy and the AT power of fired shell. Simple and functional. But: Antitank guns have ranges 10+ hexes and only 3 modifiers are used for ranges – for close combat +4 (both vehicles on the same hex), point blank range (=1 hex) means +3 and double range means -2. This simplicity leads to weird effect, where there is almost impossible to even scratch the tiger’s frontal armor from 100m (=2 hexes) by t34/76, but on the range 50m, the t34/76 have good chance to damage him (and even destroy by one shot)… There is no difference between 100m and 500m (for t34, for Panther it is even worse), but there is HUGE difference between 50m and 100m.

Panicked “hit” counter
This counter reduces frontal defense rating of vehicle by 4, while it leaves rear/flank armor as is. “Armor shrinking” effect seems weird (especially when only frontal armor shrinks), but this result should force player to “turn back and retreat” (panicked vehicle should have higher rear defense, so change of facing to rear/back looks wise) as author explained, i.e. forcing player to use “real warfare behavior”. It is disputable, that panicked vehicle would expose its vulnerable flank and not try to go reverse, but what is worse: in praxi, the counter works differently than intended – it is waste of scarce CAPs or even action to try to turn back and move (on which the opponent can and will react and if he handled frontal armor, rear armor would be easy task) with such crippled vehicle in most cases. So it will result in try to recover the hit or to leaving such hit vehicle alone and activating another unit. The counter makes really weird effect (worse defense on front than on flanks/rear) and it hardly forces the player to play the way the designer of the game intended.

And nitpick et the end of this issue – 1/4 of in-game vehicles have stronger frontal defense than rear/flank defense by 4 or more (Panther, StuGIIIg, SU152), so the panicked counter does not results in lower frontal than rear defense for them (i.e. this counter “works” differently for some vehicles).

Immobilized “hit” counter
I can understand the logic (explained by author), which is behind “Immobilized” hit counters, which reduces frontal defense rating of damaged vehicle by one and increases rear/flank defense by one. But in some cases (lightly armored vehicles like SdKfz251) immobilization results in worse frontal than flank/rear armor. Weird. And immobilization from mines or terrain does not have these modificators (why?).

Planes
They are totally broken in concept and have no feel of real airstrikes. Most ridiculous is, that best strategy to defend your forces against airstrike is to spread your forces and try to escape. Yes, it is hard to escape a plane with t34 in this game, but it is doable.

Conclusion

CoH definitely brought fresh air into wargames, introduced new and innovative game mechanics and fast-action gameplay, but –to be honest- the gamesystem is not done yet, it is barely on the halfway to designer’s promise of real-war tactics simulation. Some game-mechanics should be abandoned, some should be reworked to avoid gameyness and some should be just improved. The game has great unused potential. Maybe in future it could be a good wargame system.

At the moment, while playing CoH, you are playing the systems, not commanding virtual platoon. Present version of CoH is nice example of game, where “you play the rules, not the period”. Shame, that CoH has marketing based on proclamations like “Realistic military tactics are required to win.” or “Historically Accurate: Learn the unique tactics and logistics used by each historical faction.” (=quotes from designer’s web pages), which are definitely not true.
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Jan-Willem Schmidt
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Well I appreciate your opinion because it shows another perception of the game.

I'm not a wargamer and I don't have the knowledge you have about tanks, statistics etcetera.

I like the game for what it is. A game. I always wonder how a designer could possibly create a game that is based on real life, especially when you are simulating war.
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Darrell Hanning
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Bivoj wrote:
They look OK in case of vehicles (but Eskubi’s works are 100times nicer), but soldiers look unnatural.


If you're going to refer to someone else's work in comparision, it's best if you inform the reader of just what work that was (that is, what game). Personally, I don't know anyone named "Eskubi".

Bivoj wrote:
Components are not a big issue at all, I am writing this only because components of CoH are often praised – they are not bad, but not excellent either.


I personally think the components are top-notch, particuarly when compared to the components for other, tactical wargames. Thick, large-size counters and mounted mapboards are not what one typically finds in such games.

Bivoj wrote:
CAPs and APs are very innovative and fresh,


Actually, not really. Action Points have been used in tactical combat games, to regulate activity, since the seventies.

Bivoj wrote:
All choices are a “bad ones” and good player chose the best of these bad options. But this has nothing to do with real warfare or real combat tactics… This was only short example (one of many) how mechanics can work and how “good players” use gamey tactics to force opponent to use APs and CAPs ineffectively. Eurogame.


Every game system that has been designed to model tactical warfare has one or more ways for players to "game" the system. I've been playing them for forty years, and have found this to be the case in every one of them that I've played. That CoH is no exception to this rule isn't surprising at all.

Bivoj wrote:
And APs definitely benefits the player with more units on map or the passive one (the defender): the player with more units have more APs (since all units have 7APs, the more units = the more APs in total) and the passive player can pass a few actions, when the active player must move forward (to achieve victory conditions), after the active player have moved all his units, the passive one would have some “fresh” units left to do whatever he wants.


And this has been true for every system using Action Points, going all the way back to SPI games of the seventies. But I also have to ask, why does it strike you as a bad thing that the side with more units can have more activity in a given segment of time? Since that's the case in real life, why should it not be the case in a wargame?

Bivoj wrote:
This also leads to some gamey tactics or eurostyle gameplay (as an active player, you can “save” some CAPs to possible reaction on defender’s moves, but they can be wasted if defender passes also; so it is again crucial to use CAPs effectively, not to use real warfare tactic).


Again, this isn't "eurostyle gameplay" - any system (and there are many) that allow players to reserve activity for reaction use during the other player's turn will be subject to these same considerations.

Bivoj wrote:

When a unit takes hit, player draws (secretly) a chit on which is written what happened. It varies from almost nothing (troops are unnerved) to severely worsen morale or (in case of vehicles) bad damage. Second hit (or really bad first hit) means unit elimination. In case of vehicles, the mechanic works great. Good AT canons can easily eliminate enemy targets just by one shot, average shot means hit, second hit eliminates a vehicle, which is OK. One can imagine that second hit worsen morale of already demoralized crew and they bailed out or second damage made the vehicle practically useless etc. In case of infantry, the mechanic plays weird: first hit is always “worse morale” and very often it is “light” worsening. So, you can “heal” your unit by card or by successful roll and the unit is again fresh without a scratch, but second hit on already shaken troops means total elimination of whole fireteam or squad. Imagine situation, where your fresh panzergrenadiers suffered lucky shot from poor enemy infantry and received “unnerved” chit (no effect on unit, just hit marker lying on them). These guys are all OK, no causalities, and morale relatively good – no effects on their fighting capabilities.


I think you're underestimating the effect lessened morale has on a unit that isn't sitting inside an armored vehicle. Morale isn't, at this point, "relatively good". You make the second hit result sound unreasonable by undervaluing what your unit suffered from the first hit result.

Bivoj wrote:
The cards add more uncontrollable chaos, uncertainty and randomness into already random game, while they add little or zero “hand management” (you receive fixed amount of cards each turn – use them or not) or choice.


OK, so on the one hand, you berate the game for having Eurostyle influences, but on the other hand, you berate the game for not having the Eurogame element of "hand management". Which way do you want it?

Bivoj wrote:
Antitank guns have low “blue” armored (armored vehicles have “blue defense”) frontal defense, because they have thin steel gunshield and “red” soft flank/rear defense. This blue defense makes ATGs well protected against infantry fire (even from heavy machineguns - ahistorically), but infantry can smash them from rear or in close combat – this designer decision looks relatively wise on first sight, but… Who is the best killer of ATGs? Panther!


Not true. The best killer of towed ATGs has always been infantry (or artillery). ATGs crews usually take care to camoflage their unit, and infantry are vastly superior at spotting, compared to tank crews. Too, an ATG unit has a much harder time trying to take out an infantry squad or platoon (spread out and in cover) than it would a single tank that has spotted it.

Bivoj wrote:
Because he has the highest “blue” factor (he has the best antitank power). And what is the best ATG strategy against Panther? Face your ATG’s rear/flank, because there, your gun has “red” defense factor (for soft targets) and Panther has relatively low “red” (antipersonnel) power.
Imagine real situation, where German tankists see Russian ATG: “Load APCR ammo, we should penetrate their weak shield!“ “Damn, we have no chance, they turned their gun back and we must use our useless HE ammo…”
The author promises, that his game forces players to use real-war tactics. In case of ATG vs Tank combats, this promise is ridiculous.


I think it's pretty ridiculous, for someone to adopt the tactic of turning away and giving themselves NO chance of firing at an enemy unit. I think that's much crazier than what you're suggesting.

Bivoj wrote:
There is no difference between 100m and 500m (for t34, for Panther it is even worse), but there is HUGE difference between 50m and 100m.


And that is far from the truth, when you start researching average range for tank kills. 500-meter AT shots being kills, during WWII, was rather unlikely. And the difference between 100 meters and 50 meters is helluva lot, for armor penetration effectiveness.

Bivoj wrote:
At the moment, while playing CoH, you are playing the systems, not commanding virtual platoon. Present version of CoH is nice example of game, where “you play the rules, not the period”. Shame, that CoH has marketing based on proclamations like “Realistic military tactics are required to win.” or “Historically Accurate: Learn the unique tactics and logistics used by each historical faction.” (=quotes from designer’s web pages), which are definitely not true.


I haven't been countering several of your assertions because I happen to think CoH is the most realistic, tactical-level wargame to ever come down the pipe. But I also don't think it's the least realistic, and when taking that in conjunction with how relatively easy it is to teach to someone not familiar with wargames - and how much it does, in fact, reward a rudimentary understanding of tactics - I think that makes it a very viable entry-level wargame.

Frankly, I can shoot holes in the ASL system just as easily as you have done with CoH, here, and as I stated earlier, every system has its weaknesses and flaws. That's virtually inevitable, when you're modeling real-time encounters at this scale, where even 5 seconds of activity can make a world of difference to the outcome. No, one system solves all the issues correctly.
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Joel Tamburo
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Quote:
I haven't been countering several of your assertions because I happen to think CoH is the most realistic, tactical-level wargame to ever come down the pipe. But I also don't think it's the least realistic, and when taking that in conjunction with how relatively easy it is to teach to someone not familiar with wargames - and how much it does, in fact, reward a rudimentary understanding of tactics - I think that makes it a very viable entry-level wargame.


laugh

You're kidding right? If anything CoH is one of the LEAST realistic tactical wargames out there. The very real problems in the original post are only some of the issues.

The whole AP/CP system creates a bizarre environment where "leadership" magically appears wherever needed so long as you have the points. In essence it makes leadership a resource, and treats it in a Euro style resource management mode.

And lest we forget, the system was totally redesigned between the first and second games because of the major issues it caused with defensive fire. And even redesigned engagements still tend to turn into wierd little dogfights between units trying to get on each other's rear.

Even ASL, for all of its realism issues does better. Sargents is also better, and Lock and Load and Combat Commander also have better realism, so does ATS.

CoH is a fun and pretty LIGHT wargame. Realistic it is not.
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DarrellKH wrote:

If you're going to refer to someone else's work in comparision, it's best if you inform the reader of just what work that was (that is, what game). Personally, I don't know anyone named "Eskubi".


Maybe my critical review tempted you a little bit, but calm down - no offense was intended, just my opinion. For Nicolas Eskubi, just use google and you will find this page:
http://social.consimworld.com/profile/NicolasEskubi
And even more simple way is to use "search" button on BGG:
http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgameartist/11857/nicolas-eskub...
It is not my fault, that you do not know one of most famous wargame artists.

DarrellKH wrote:

I personally think the components are top-notch, particuarly when compared to the components for other, tactical wargames. Thick, large-size counters and mounted mapboards are not what one typically finds in such games.

I accept the opinion, it is widely spread, but I disagree. I prefere "classical" die-cut counters and many games have good solid maps - Lock-and-Load (with Eskubi's art) or Panzergrenadier for example. As I wrote: the components are good, but many tactical wargames have at least the same quality of components.

DarrellKH wrote:

Bivoj wrote:
CAPs and APs are very innovative and fresh,


Actually, not really. Action Points have been used in tactical combat games, to regulate activity, since the seventies.


One never stops learning

DarrellKH wrote:

Every game system that has been designed to model tactical warfare has one or more ways for players to "game" the system. I've been playing them for forty years, and have found this to be the case in every one of them that I've played. That CoH is no exception to this rule isn't surprising at all.


My point is, that CoH is about resource management, about effective use of abstract APs and CAPs, which is far less "wargame", that I ever experienced in tactical wargames. Maybe some games have this even worse - I do not want to play them...

DarrellKH wrote:

Bivoj wrote:
And APs definitely benefits the player with more units on map or the passive one (the defender): the player with more units have more APs (since all units have 7APs, the more units = the more APs in total) and the passive player can pass a few actions, when the active player must move forward (to achieve victory conditions), after the active player have moved all his units, the passive one would have some “fresh” units left to do whatever he wants.


And this has been true for every system using Action Points, going all the way back to SPI games of the seventies. But I also have to ask, why does it strike you as a bad thing that the side with more units can have more activity in a given segment of time? Since that's the case in real life, why should it not be the case in a wargame?


Not only systems using action points do this. "Impulse" driven wargames have this flaw also, but it leads to gamey tactics and I expected from CoH, that it will be better, that it will avoid this flaw - like it promised on the box (the sentence about using "real war tactics").

DarrellKH wrote:

Bivoj wrote:
This also leads to some gamey tactics or eurostyle gameplay (as an active player, you can “save” some CAPs to possible reaction on defender’s moves, but they can be wasted if defender passes also; so it is again crucial to use CAPs effectively, not to use real warfare tactic).


Again, this isn't "eurostyle gameplay" - any system (and there are many) that allow players to reserve activity for reaction use during the other player's turn will be subject to these same considerations.


That is simply not true - in every game I played with "old-school" opportunity fire, it not leads to saving abstract CAPs or to managing effective usage of some abstract action points.

DarrellKH wrote:

I think you're underestimating the effect lessened morale has on a unit that isn't sitting inside an armored vehicle. Morale isn't, at this point, "relatively good". You make the second hit result sound unreasonable by undervaluing what your unit suffered from the first hit result.


I just do not like this strange bloodyness of infantry combat. I like classical step loses (where I can imagine causalities) and classical forced routs for demoralized units. Here the hit means
1) Nothing
2) Severe morale effect (with varius types of negative modificators), but "healable" (after recover, the unit is again fresh like never hit before)
3) Kill (or abstraction of not recoverable rout)

This results in weird effects and unintuitive tactics.

DarrellKH wrote:

OK, so on the one hand, you berate the game for having Eurostyle influences, but on the other hand, you berate the game for not having the Eurogame element of "hand management". Which way do you want it?


I want entertaining game with feel of ww2 tactical combat. Up Front has hand management and it also has much more feel of tactical ww2 combat than this game. But it was not my point - the cards are useless, they add only little decision and absolutely no chrome or immersion. Why are there?

DarrellKH wrote:

Bivoj wrote:
Antitank guns have low “blue” armored (armored vehicles have “blue defense”) frontal defense, because they have thin steel gunshield and “red” soft flank/rear defense. This blue defense makes ATGs well protected against infantry fire (even from heavy machineguns - ahistorically), but infantry can smash them from rear or in close combat – this designer decision looks relatively wise on first sight, but… Who is the best killer of ATGs? Panther!


Not true. The best killer of towed ATGs has always been infantry (or artillery). ATGs crews usually take care to camoflage their unit, and infantry are vastly superior at spotting, compared to tank crews. Too, an ATG unit has a much harder time trying to take out an infantry squad or platoon (spread out and in cover) than it would a single tank that has spotted it.


Any Russian ATG (including ZiS2) vs Panther is useless unless the scenario provides "hidden units", so Panther is best ATG killer in this game. It is true, that "ATGs crews usually take care to camoflage their unit", but why it is not implemented into CoH? And why is Maxim HMG harder target for tanks than Russian 45mm ATG? Why would be better shieldless Flak36 than the one with shield (if both were implemented in CoH)?

DarrellKH wrote:

I think it's pretty ridiculous, for someone to adopt the tactic of turning away and giving themselves NO chance of firing at an enemy unit. I think that's much crazier than what you're suggesting.


It is very wise tactic if loss of a unit results in permanent loss of 1CAP and your ATG can barely scratch enemy tank (attack of 10 against defense of 21 in case of most powerful Russian ATG), it is better to avoid confrontation (tanks are hunting ATGs in this game and ATGs are facing their flanks to improve their protection).

DarrellKH wrote:

Bivoj wrote:
There is no difference between 100m and 500m (for t34, for Panther it is even worse), but there is HUGE difference between 50m and 100m.


And that is far from the truth, when you start researching average range for tank kills. 500-meter AT shots being kills, during WWII, was rather unlikely. And the difference between 100 meters and 50 meters is helluva lot, for armor penetration effectiveness.


I use charts on these webs in my personal research:
http://www.freeweb.hu/gva/weapons/soviet.html
http://www.tarrif.net/cgi/production/all_penetration_adv.php
And I read tons of Ospreys (including the one included in my preordered CoH:SoS). All I can say is - I disagree with you.

DarrellKH wrote:

I haven't been countering several of your assertions because I happen to think CoH is the most realistic, tactical-level wargame to ever come down the pipe. But I also don't think it's the least realistic, and when taking that in conjunction with how relatively easy it is to teach to someone not familiar with wargames - and how much it does, in fact, reward a rudimentary understanding of tactics - I think that makes it a very viable entry-level wargame.


If it is more complex Memoir 44 or more wargameish Tide of Iron, than yes, it is very good game, but not game for me. I was pursuaded by hype and marketing around and I was disappointed. The game should be realistic, it should revard players using "real warfare tactics" and avoid gameyness. Nothing of it is true. It is just a light wargame - nothing for me (I know many better tactical wargames) and this review is written for other more "hard-core" wargamers.

DarrellKH wrote:

Frankly, I can shoot holes in the ASL system just as easily as you have done with CoH, here, and as I stated earlier, every system has its weaknesses and flaws. That's virtually inevitable, when you're modeling real-time encounters at this scale, where even 5 seconds of activity can make a world of difference to the outcome. No, one system solves all the issues correctly.


I do not like "others are bad, I can be bad too" argument. But I agree, that some games are even worse - that is the reason why I gave CoH rating of 5 and not 1 or 2.
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Joelist wrote:
Quote:
I haven't been countering several of your assertions because I happen to think CoH is the most realistic, tactical-level wargame to ever come down the pipe. But I also don't think it's the least realistic, and when taking that in conjunction with how relatively easy it is to teach to someone not familiar with wargames - and how much it does, in fact, reward a rudimentary understanding of tactics - I think that makes it a very viable entry-level wargame.



You're kidding right? If anything CoH is one of the LEAST realistic tactical wargames out there. The very real problems in the original post are only some of the issues.


No, I'm not kidding. I said it's "not the least realistic". You said, "It's one of the least realistic". Those two are not mutually exclusive. You should read what I said more carefully.


Joelist wrote:
The whole AP/CP system creates a bizarre environment where "leadership" magically appears wherever needed so long as you have the points. In essence it makes leadership a resource, and treats it in a Euro style resource management mode.


And, again, action point, tactical combat systems have been around since the Seventies - twenty years before "Euro" was even a "style". So, how do you explain that?

Joelist wrote:
And lest we forget, the system was totally redesigned between the first and second games because of the major issues it caused with defensive fire.


I wasn't aware it was "totally redesigned". Does anyone other than its detractors claim that?

Joelist wrote:
And even redesigned engagements still tend to turn into wierd little dogfights between units trying to get on each other's rear.


Do you have any idea how many tactical wargames can be accused of that? Or just how much wanting to flank a unit applies to real-world tactics?


Joelist wrote:
CoH is a fun and pretty LIGHT wargame. Realistic it is not.


You really should try to avoid accusing others of making absolute statements, when they clearly didn't. It makes you look like you didn't actually read what was written, before responding.

Again - for those of you who didn't read it the first time - I never claimed CoH is "realistic". I didn't claim it was "more realistic" than this game or that. I did claim it wasn't the least realistic, because I can name two that are even less realistic. (And for those who have studied more than a handful of tactical wargames, I think you can, too.) And I think that's probably a fair place for the game to be, in the tactical spectrum, because of the good job it does with programmed instructions, in getting newcomers into wargaming.
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DarrellKH wrote:
I never claimed CoH is "realistic".


Than we both agree with each other - no offensive "flamewar" needed

DarrellKH wrote:
I did claim it wasn't the least realistic


That is unnecessary statement - nobody says, that CoH is least realistic wargame

DarrellKH wrote:
getting newcomers into wargaming.


Yes, it should be written on the box and on Academy Games web pages instead of proclamation about "realistic military tactics" and "Historical accuracy". I wouldn't buy such game and thus never written this review
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thirdeye333 wrote:
I always wonder how a designer could possibly create a game that is based on real life, especially when you are simulating war.


I would think if the game looks like fun from the outside, but once you play it, the experience is absolutely terrible, that would be a fairly accurate simulation of war.

Here again, Conflict of Heroes fails miserably.
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Actually Darrel go back and read your own post - calling it "the most realistic tacitcal wargame to ever come down the pike" IS calling it realistic.

And yes, the AP system WAS completely redesigned, despite assertions to the contrary by apologists. The changes made were massivbe, and completely altered the manner in which units interacted.

By the way, which 2 do you think are less realistic?
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Bivoj wrote:
For Nicolas Eskubi, just use google and you will find this page:
http://social.consimworld.com/profile/NicolasEskubi
And even more simple way is to use "search" button on BGG:
http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgameartist/11857/nicolas-eskub...
It is not my fault, that you do not know one of most famous wargame artists.


On the other hand, it is your fault that you still haven't mentioned what game artwork he has done - expecting, instead, that the reader do the legwork for you.

Joelist wrote:
I accept the opinion, it is widely spread, but I disagree. I prefere "classical" die-cut counters and many games have good solid maps - Lock-and-Load (with Eskubi's art) or Panzergrenadier for example. As I wrote: the components are good, but many tactical wargames have at least the same quality of components.


I have a couple of hundred wargames with "classical" die-cut counters. They're all fine and well in games where stacking is a concern, But newcomers to wargames expect a higher standard in components. They prefer thicker, larger counters, and that was my point.

Joelist wrote:
My point is, that CoH is about resource management, about effective use of abstract APs and CAPs, which is far less "wargame", that I ever experienced in tactical wargames. Maybe some games have this even worse - I do not want to play them.


If you ask a general officer, combat is always about "resource management". Action points, time slices, pre-plotting, Igo-ugo, initiative chits - it really doesn't matter. They all have glaring weaknesses in modeling real-time, small-unit combat. It's just what weaknesses you're willing to overlook, that makes you pick one over the other.

Joelist wrote:
Not only systems using action points do this. "Impulse" driven wargames have this flaw also, but it leads to gamey tactics and I expected from CoH, that it will be better, that it will avoid this flaw - like it promised on the box (the sentence about using "real war tactics").


Are you saying the impulse system games didn't make the same claim? My point being, it sounds as if you're holding CoH to a different standard - at least partly based on what the marketing guys put on the box!

Joelist wrote:
That is simply not true - in every game I played with "old-school" opportunity fire, it not leads to saving abstract CAPs or to managing effective usage of some abstract action points.


There are many tactical wargames where you "use" action points to commit a unit to "opportunity fire". If they never get the opportunity to fire, then you've wasted them, just as you have in CoH. That was my point. Alternatively, many such games instead require you to forego moving a unit, in order to put it in "reaction mode" (or whatever that system chooses to call it. (I'm beginning to suspect you have a rather narrow set of experiences with tactical wargames.) My point is that there is almost always a cost for having the opportunity to fire during the opponent's turn - as there should be. The alternative is just plain silly.

Joelist wrote:
I just do not like this strange bloodyness of infantry combat. I like classical step loses (where I can imagine causalities) and classical forced routs for demoralized units. Here the hit means
1) Nothing
2) Severe morale effect (with varius types of negative modificators), but "healable" (after recover, the unit is again fresh like never hit before)
3) Kill (or abstraction of not recoverable rout)

This results in weird effects and unintuitive tactics.


I don't think it has strange effects at all. A unit undergoing a significant loss of morale is not a result rarely found in tactical wargames (of any period), and almost invariably requires the player to treat it with caution - get it out of fire, rally it, etc.

Joelist wrote:
I want entertaining game with feel of ww2 tactical combat. Up Front has hand management and it also has much more feel of tactical ww2 combat than this game. But it was not my point - the cards are useless, they add only little decision and absolutely no chrome or immersion. Why are there?


For my money, Up Front seems surrealistic, as if two opposing forces are fighting in the Twilight Zone, with terrain changing around them all the time. Not realistic at all, to my mind. Saying that the cards are "useless" and add "absolutely no chrome" is an exaggeration, and not true. They do have uses, and they do impart some historical flavor.

Joelist wrote:
Any Russian ATG (including ZiS2) vs Panther is useless unless the scenario provides "hidden units", so Panther is best ATG killer in this game.


If a unit is "useless unless hidden", that doesn't necessarily mean that its intended target is the best candidate for destroying it.


Joelist wrote:
It is very wise tactic if loss of a unit results in permanent loss of 1CAP and your ATG can barely scratch enemy tank (attack of 10 against defense of 21 in case of most powerful Russian ATG), it is better to avoid confrontation (tanks are hunting ATGs in this game and ATGs are facing their flanks to improve their protection).


Again, any unit facing away from the enemy is only prolonging the time until its death. It sure as hell can't shoot anything that way.

Joelist wrote:

I use charts on these webs in my personal research:
http://www.freeweb.hu/gva/weapons/soviet.html
http://www.tarrif.net/cgi/production/all_penetration_adv.php
And I read tons of Ospreys (including the one included in my preordered CoH:SoS). All I can say is - I disagree with you.


I think you're overlooking the unlikelihood of actually hitting a target at 500 yards. The numbers for armor penetration is for a fixed-mount weapon against a piece of armor locked into place, and the shot already pre-calculated for an exact hit. None of which, of course, happens in combat.

Joelist wrote:
If it is more complex Memoir 44 or more wargameish Tide of Iron, than yes, it is very good game, but not game for me. I was pursuaded by hype and marketing around and I was disappointed. The game should be realistic, it should revard players using "real warfare tactics" and avoid gameyness. Nothing of it is true. It is just a light wargame - nothing for me (I know many better tactical wargames) and this review is written for other more "hard-core" wargamers.


Again, I think you're holding CoH's marketing hype to a different standard of truth than that for other games.

Joelist wrote:
DarrellKH wrote:

Frankly, I can shoot holes in the ASL system just as easily as you have done with CoH, here, and as I stated earlier, every system has its weaknesses and flaws. That's virtually inevitable, when you're modeling real-time encounters at this scale, where even 5 seconds of activity can make a world of difference to the outcome. No, one system solves all the issues correctly.


I do not like "others are bad, I can be bad too" argument. But I agree, that some games are even worse - that is the reason why I gave CoH rating of 5 and not 1 or 2.


That isn't the argument I was making. I was pointing out that having gameplay problems in small-unit combat is unavoidable for any design. And that it is therefore unfair to single out a single game for this flaw, when all are guilty of it. After all, don't they all tout themselves as being "realistic"?
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Can you guys elaborate on your criticisms of "real war tactics NOT applying" ?

Cause I don't get that at all. When I play, it's effective to use flanking tactics. It's effective to use smoke and cover. It's effective to have units shoot to try and pin units so others can move.

Aren't all those "real war tactics" ?


And Bivoj, I respect your opinion (and a very well written review), I just disagree with it. You don't like "the system". Okay, I get that, fair enough. Judging from review scores and apparently successful sales numbers (since they're making more expansions), you are in the minority. I love this game.
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Joelist wrote:
Actually Darrel go back and read your own post - calling it "the most realistic tacitcal wargame to ever come down the pike" IS calling it realistic.

And yes, the AP system WAS completely redesigned, despite assertions to the contrary by apologists. The changes made were massivbe, and completely altered the manner in which units interacted.

By the way, which 2 do you think are less realistic?


WTF?? I didn't say that. The reviewer claimed the game material said that.

Go back and read my post yourself.

What I said was "I haven't been countering several of your assertions because I happen to think CoH is the most realistic, tactical-level wargame to ever come down the pipe."

Do you not understand the use of a negative??? I'll explain it to you in simpler terms. I was countering several of his assertions - but not because I believe CoH is the most realistic, tactical-level wargame to ever come down the pipe.

So, you thought, instead, that I wasn't countering his assertions? What the heck were you reading?
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DarrellKH wrote:
I haven't been countering several of your assertions because I happen to think CoH is the most realistic, tactical-level wargame to ever come down the pipe.


Quoted from the second to last paragraph of your post. Bolding mine.

Edited for piles of spelling and bolding.

Edit also says: Could it be that you just forgot to but an "...I 'don't' think ..." in that sentence that is causing a bit of a misunderstanding? Cause that's what I thought from the context ...
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chrisdk wrote:
DarrellKH wrote:
I haven't been countering several of your assertions because I happen to think CoH is the most realistic, tactical-level wargame to ever come down the pipe.


Quoted from the second to last paragraph of your post. Bolding mine.

Edited for piles of spelling and bolding.

Edit also says: Could it be that you just forgot to but an "...I 'don't' think ..." in that sentence that is causing a bit of a misunderstanding? Cause that's what I thought from the context ...


Um, bold the first half of the sentence too, and you'll find he's specifically not saying that he thinks COH is the most realistic tactical level wargame. :-)
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Darrell,
I just do not like the game, I won't play it again, because it is not fun for me and I wanted to share my opinion here, because it seemed almost all people here like CoH. That's all.

For Eskubi's works - it is clear, that I mean every his work. Pick random one and compare. (If you do not want to "do the legwork", the secret remains hidden for you)

"But newcomers to wargames expect..."
I do not know what newcomers expect and I do not mind it. I prefer die-cut counters. That's all.

"Action points, time slices, pre-plotting, Igo-ugo, initiative chits - it really doesn't matter. They all have glaring weaknesses"

And they all work better than wierd CAPs/APs.

"I think you're overlooking the unlikelihood of actually hitting a target at 500 yards."

No, I am not. The "unlikelihood of actually hitting a target" is not same at 100m and at 500m (or 750m for panther), while much better at 50m and much worse at 550m. Most of other games simulates this problem better.

"what the marketing guys put on the box"
Not marketing guys, but Uwe Eickert, the author himself.

"If they never get the opportunity to fire, then you've wasted them"
Yes, but it has somehow better feel of ww2 tactical combat than abstract CAPs and it has more believable results. (one can imagine, that the guys, who did not fire are just sitting and waiting, CAPs are beyond imagination)

"I don't think it has strange effects at all."
And I think, that in CoH it is strange and in other wargames not. I explained why.

"any unit facing away from the enemy is only prolonging the time until its death"
It can be crucial - it increases your probability (and time) to retain (hold) more scarce CAPs. It is gamey, but it works.

"all are guilty of it. After all, don't they all tout themselves as being "realistic"?"

Not all are guilty and not all are pretending realism in CoH manner.
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Felkor wrote:
chrisdk wrote:
DarrellKH wrote:
I haven't been countering several of your assertions because I happen to think CoH is the most realistic, tactical-level wargame to ever come down the pipe.


Quoted from the second to last paragraph of your post. Bolding mine.

Edited for piles of spelling and bolding.

Edit also says: Could it be that you just forgot to but an "...I 'don't' think ..." in that sentence that is causing a bit of a misunderstanding? Cause that's what I thought from the context ...


Um, bold the first half of the sentence too, and you'll find he's specifically not saying that he thinks COH is the most realistic tactical level wargame. :-)


Is that so? Has my english reading comprehension just officially gone down the drain?

I would have thought that it would be read as the following:

Quote:
I haven't been countering several of your assertions


I took that as the first sentence, meaning that he refrained from countering some assertions

Quote:
because


which I took as a connection to the next "sentence" labeling it as the reason for what he did in the first "sentence"

Quote:
I happen to think [...]


which I took as the second sentence, saying that he actually happens to think that COH is the most [etc].

Or paraphrased: Because I DO think that it is the most realistic [...], I refrained from countering some of your assertions.


So ... I would have thought that to make it mean that he does actually not think that COH is the most realistic tactical wargame it would have to have been

Quote:
I haven't been countering several of your assertions because I don't happen to think CoH is the most realistic, tactical-level wargame to ever come down the pipe.


Allthough I am fully willing to admit that me not being a native speaker could be getting that totally wrong and that putting that 'don't' in there is actually unnecessary.
 
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manhattandoctor wrote:
DarrellKH wrote:
I haven't been countering several of your assertions because I happen to think CoH is the most realistic, tactical-level wargame to ever come down the pipe.


It seems the OP wrote a sentence that was difficult to parse. He meant to express the following: "COH is not the most realistic tactical-level wargame to come down the pipe. Therefore, I have not been countering several of your assertions."


GNARF ... Okay, I see it now. It DOES feel like the gramatical version of one of them trick pictures where you see an old woman or a young woman or the one with a vase or two faces.

Allthough I do not think it means what you say it means. I now read it as "The reason for me countering some of your assertions isnt me thinking COH is the best and most realistic, the reason is instead that I just don't think it's the least realistic either."
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Christoph:

I read his statement similar to the following statement:

"I'm not talking on the BGG forums because little green aliens are making me do it."

Here, grammatically speaking, my sentence is the same. When you read this statement, do you believe I'm saying that little green aliens are making me talk on BGG? Or perhaps (as I would interpret it) it is saying that there are other reasons that I am talking on BGG forums.

I suppose it depends on whether you read my sentence as saying that I am talking on the BGG forums, or that I am not talking on them. And I think that's where your interpretation of the sentence differend from mine.

Anyway, no need for a huge grammar debate here. The author of that post has clarified himself.
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Darrell, there is no need for you to be rude and condescending in your posts. You did not use the "negative" properly. In the manner you used it, it DOES say you think CoH is the most realistic tactical wargame.

To say what you were apparently trying to communicate, you could use any of the examples others have given.
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manhattandoctor wrote:
It seems the OP wrote a sentence that was difficult to parse.

I disagree. It's a common construct, both in written and spoken English. It's usually followed by a clarifying phrase (and was, in this case). "I'm not drinking Starbucks because it's the best coffee in the world. But it ran every other coffee shop out of business."

I think the confusion came from haste and a failure to read contextually. I can understand a non-native speaker not getting it, but otherwise, it's not difficult to parse at all. (Not that you, personally, didn't understand it, as your rephrasing shows.)
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By the way, I checked out Eskubi's work and yeah, that guy is great. Excellent stuff!

For the record, I really like the art in Conflict of Heroes as well. I don't think it has to be an either/or situation. Both can be great.
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Considering this game just won the 2010 Origins Award for Best Historical game, I'd say that you are DEFINITELY in the minority. Some might say your original post smacks of trolling, jealousy, or just blatant contrarianism... (look how cool I am! I disagree with the masses!) But I wouldn't say that.

Bivoj wrote:

But I agree, that some games are even worse - that is the reason why I gave CoH rating of 5 and not 1 or 2.
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Chairman7w wrote:
Considering this game just won the 2010 Origins Award for Best Historical game, I'd say that you are DEFINITELY in the minority. Some might say your original post smacks of trolling, jealousy, or just blatant contrarianism... (look how cool I am! I disagree with the masses!) But I wouldn't say that.

Bivoj wrote:

But I agree, that some games are even worse - that is the reason why I gave CoH rating of 5 and not 1 or 2.


Or it provides incontrovertible proof that the Origins and CSR awards have devolved into nothing more than deciding what is the prettiest and most popular, than it is an actual reflection on the design and mechanics of any given game.

Since very few of us are designers and publishers here, or on Consimworld, or any of the other sites, as Mark Pitcavage(I believe it was him, apology if my memory has failed on the who) has indicated elsewhere, we're not truly fit to be judges in any of these awards. Since there is no panel of experts that picks the nominees based on set criteria, in the end it comes down to public opinion, not actual industry expertise.

Sorry..no intent to offend anyone, but you really have to take of all these awards with a grain of salt. Sure it's great to win one, we at Bounding Fire Productions, LLC. hope to win one too. But it's really a statement of your popularity than it is of the actual excellence of the product.

COH/SOS are great games, but there are in my not so humble opinion, much more deserving games of the title "Best Historical Game"..

Sorry Uwe..Love you man..Glad the series is popular and that there will be more of them (I like them, they are fun GAMES).
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Fair enough Brian!
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Chairman7w wrote:
Considering this game just won the 2010 Origins Award for Best Historical game, I'd say that you are DEFINITELY in the minority. Some might say your original post smacks of trolling, jealousy, or just blatant contrarianism... (look how cool I am! I disagree with the masses!) But I wouldn't say that.


I really wanted to love this game - you can search in history and you'll find my comments before SoS have been released to preview images, where I tried to help improve realism or the game itself. In Awakening the Bare forums, you can find my complaints about PzIVD stats and Soviet SMG stats and I believe, that my complaints led to errata or answers in FAQ on Academy Games website. All of that was before I played the game and I was very disappointed after a few plays - first, I tried to invent some house rules (like +2 bonus on antitank fire on 2hex range and +1 bonus on antitank fire on 3-4hex range), but when we solved with house rule one issue (in our gaming group), another emerged. As I wrote in conclusion - great potential, but a lot of work should be done to make realistic system.

And I definitely do not understand why is CoH so popular. I do not get it... But, as you can see on "thumbs up" - I am in minority, but not alone.
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