I love CotA, but if you're just starting out with those Highway to the Reich is a little easier to get around - the supply system is completely abstracted and you don't have to worry as much about the terrain, since we're talking about (mostly) open fields instead of Greek mountains.
Those of you into Sid Meier's Gettysburg/Antietam - have you tried Take Command: Second Manassas? It's really the spiritual successor in my eyes. The stock campaign is a completely thorough telling of the battle of 2nd Manassas, which I didn't care about at all until I started playing this, and then modders have recreated Antietam, Chickamauga, Fredericksburg, The Wilderness, and probably a dozen other battles I'm forgetting. One stop shopping for RT ACW strategy.
Are we counting Hearts of Iron II in here? I bought it about a year ago, played the tutorial, and tried to start a French campaign before quitting because it was too complicated. But two nights ago I decided to give it another shot, playing the North Africa campaign. I had the British back to Alexandria before they knew what hit them...I never realized what a great operational strategy game was hiding under all the factory building.
Manoevre is the new hotness in easy (easier?) to play war gamey board games. Tide of Iron is also popular and much discussed. Command and Colors Ancients is just straight out more tactical than Battlelore with the battleback rules and the light infantry retreat rules. The elephants also add an additional tactical element to the game. Grognards on BGG would never consider C&C:A a wargame though; if you feel like trolling, go over there (www.boardgamegeek.com) and suggest it.
Surprised not to see more discussion of EU in this thread, is it not considered to be a wargame on the strategic level? It puts me to sleep, but board wargames do that to me too, so I thought it was normal. It would certainly appear to be more wargamey than Medieval Total War 2, which is to me is basically a strategy game with a nice real time combat engine.
I think I'd just call it a strategic boardgame more than anything; I mean, initially you could say it's just a much more in-depth and continental version of Risk, and most don't consider that to be a wargame (or chess for that matter). The lines of distinction can be pretty gray.
C&C:A though.. I dunno, hard to say. It's produced by a wargame publisher, which helps the whole wargame moniker (which also publishes Twilight Struggle, which is just more of a political boardgame).
I'd have to agree that C&C:Ancients is only a borderline wargame, at best. Wargames aim for realism, which C&C simply doesn't do, e.g.:
- weirdly retreating Melee units
- flank attacks aren't crushing
- melee combat resolves too quickly relative to maneuver speed
- red and green blocks are valued the same
- units can freely move in any direction
It's fun, engaging, colorful, and plays quickly -- but it doesn't give results much like historical accounts. For that you'd have to go to something a bit heavier, e.g. Tactica, Armati, or perhaps DBA. Hell, even Warhammer is more of a wargame than C&C. ;-)
On the realism note, btw, I was recommended Philip Sabin's Lost Battles by a reader and it's a wonderful book about how to create a simulation game that gives results that approximate those of ancient battles. I think have some issues with the model, but anyone interested in how to use game design as a learning tool should really read this book. (Besides, any book with Rome: Total War in its bibliography can't be all bad.)
*shrug* For me, that's by definition, stemming from it's roots in Kriegspiel.
The game mechanics of a wargame do their best to approximate a "historical" result, using appropriate tactics, within the constraints of abstract rules and play time. C&C is literally a re-skinning of rules from a light WW2 wargame, and it plays like it, yielding outcomes and tactics that just don't fit the period.
To use another analogy, sure, you can make an Age of Sail game where Ships turn on a time, wind direction means nothing, and you can fire at any angle. It may well be a fun game -- but it's not a wargame.
Warhammer (not 40K!) does better at this than C&C, mainly by having units march forward, and giving flanking bonuses -- aspects of ancient battles that were so key that a wargame just can't leave them out. The fact that Warhammer (may) have magic and monsters is beside the point, as those are the parts that obviously aren't meant to model anything.
I don't buy into the angle that wargames can't cover speculative battles, e.g. simply because The Han and Roman empires never fought. Are you seriously making that argument, or just attempting to paint me as a rivet counting purist grognard for rhetorical purposes? ;-)
I think I would agree that aside from realism, once games become too abstract, most wargamers I know will begin to believe they are not really wargames anymore, but games with a war theme tacked on to it.
Hardcore grognards tend to draw the line in a different place than the "average" gamer. I would agree that I do not, for example, consider C&C to be a true wargame.
(Plus I find your definition to be hilariously old-fashioned, but... well, I guess this thread does have "grognard" in the title, so who am I to judge?)
I'm hoping we can expand the grognard love tent to include all of us who enjoy a bit of a war/strategy game. Can't we all just get along?
Ok, so after:
- the 70ish page "tutorial 1" tutorial in CoTA
- the 200 page "reference guide"
- the 40 page "hot tips" guide
- the 4 or so post-tutorial 1 suggested scenarios...
...I've finally almost completed Tutorial 2 and it's 90 or so pages of guide!
Believe it or not, this is all rather fun. I enjoy soaking in a new game system, and the guides and rules aren't hard, they just show you how to process the info the game provides into decisions and actions "on the ground".
Tutorial 2 is extremely good. First you're holding off a bunch of Germans with your poor Aussies (and a few Greeks), then a pile more Aussies and some Brit armor turns up and you take the offensive. Quite a few interesting challenges and decisions need to be made and being patient, not panicking and crossing your fingers all play their part. As does around 50 25lb'er tubes! :D
Yes, if you insist on using realistic or historically derived units, then you have to pass certain smell tests to get past cognitive
dissonance. But I don't see that as a necessary part of the genre. That is what I was addressing in a decaffeinated stupor.
A wargame is, simply, a game in which both sides start with fixed forces (allowing for reinforcement or replenishment rules) on a predetermined field of battle. Of course you can have speculative encounters between Martians, monkeys or muppets. I'm not sure how realism helps you there, though plausibility is certainly an issue.
Maybe you mean "plausible" instead of "realistic", but even there you run into some serious trouble that says more about your preference in models than it does about which game is better.
Ancient warfare is especially contentious - there are lots of deep debates on this and to single out C&C:A as unrealistic instead of, say, the Great Battles of History model, is not the same as saying one is a better wargame. Flanking for example; given the low quality of much ancient cavalry, how big a problem was it for disciplined armies? Skirmishers are ignored in most ancient sources - is this because they didn't matter or because authors didn't think they were important? Are phalanxes really brittle? How you answer these questions will affect your model and if you have one version of ancient battles in your head another model may seem "unrealistic".
Its interesting, I think most wargamers (minatures or cardboard anyway) would happily play a game in which one side is guaranteed to lose provided it felt authentic. They would sooner enjoy the process of playing something that kind of feels like it could happen based on readings or accounts rather than have a balanced experience.
I dont know if anyone has had this experience but fairly often I have finished playing a miniature or cardboard wargame and after spending a nice hour discussing it with my opponent and then we look at the victory conditions and simply disagree with the rules saying "well thats just silly" and go back to talking about the game. I dont want to make too much of it but I think there is an element of exploration to wargaming rather than a win/lose game state.
Last edited by Jasper Phillips; 04-28-2008 at 08:09 PM.
Please bear in mind that a lot of people who would say something is or is not a wargame are not suggesting that the non-wargame is not worth playing (I for one certainly am not; I just finished a game of Advanced Squad Leader and now have Descent on the table). It's just a classification issue.
I agree it's subjective and impossible to find any sort of "final truth", but "it happened long ago, we can't know for sure, all arguments are equal"? I think that's going a bit too far.Ancient warfare is especially contentious - there are lots of deep debates on this and to single out C&C:A as unrealistic instead of, say, the Great Battles of History model, is not the same as saying one is a better wargame. Flanking for example; given the low quality of much ancient cavalry, how big a problem was it for disciplined armies? Skirmishers are ignored in most ancient sources - is this because they didn't matter or because authors didn't think they were important? Are phalanxes really brittle? How you answer these questions will affect your model and if you have one version of ancient battles in your head another model may seem "unrealistic".
C&C lets units move in any direction, regardless of facing -- this is clearly wrong. In C&C you can charge cavalry head on into heavy infantry to good effect -- this is clearly wrong. Flanking was decisive in many ancient battles, with or without cavalry, and ancient commanders definitely paid attention to it; massed units charged in the flank or rear folded quickly, sometimes rolling up the entire opposing battle line -- yet in C&C units fight the same in all directions. Ancient armies did not rout en masse when their skirmishers fled, but in C&C this is common -- if you attempt to use the classic skirmishers in front to screen your core units tactic, you lose. In C&C "moving" units get to attack first, and their opponent may not get to fight back -- what does that even mean in a melee battle?
To be sure, C&C gets many things right too. Like units fighting full strength until they rout, armies not fighting to the last man, elephants scaring cavalry, not being able to shoot over interposing units or into melee, difficulty of adapting plans during battle, etc. These are good, but not enough to offset the above points.
To reiterate, I enjoy C&C as a game, but there simply isn't enough realism for me to see it as a wargame. If you're looking for a grognardy wargame, there are definitely better games to try.
sorry to break up the hardcore grogging (is that the correct conjugation of grognard?), but i've gotta ask: does a love of the total war series make me a grognard? i've got about 150 hours in on medieval 2 and its expansion. will i enjoy a game like conquest of the aegean?
It's possible, but the correlation between liking Medieval 2 and liking COTA is likely to be weak. I think there's a COTA gameplay video on their website; watching that is likely to give you an idea of whether or not it's going to be your thing.
Oh, I highly doubt it ohsweet. While I think most people who play COTA probably would enjoy the Total War series, the exact opposite is the case with Total War fans I'd guess.
I'd do some reading on the game before you go any further. Reviews on sites like wargamer.com will give you a pretty good idea of what it's about.
Some very, very different games.
The thing I love most about the Panther games (CotA and HttR) are that there's really nothing else like them, as far as I can tell. I remember reading in an old Computer Games Strategy Plus (remember that one?) about something that sounded similar focusing on the Eastern Front, Road to Moscow I think, but as far as I know that never materialized. I think Panther's working on the Bulge next, moving into more well-worn territory than CotA. Personally I think they should keep the focus on the less known conflicts - I knew absolutely nothing about the Greek campaign before I played CotA, and would love that mix of fun/learning again.
New topic: how about the Distant Guns Russian-Japanese naval game? Another title that is basically in a class by itself. I definitely prefer this one to, say, a Harpoon title, but personally it takes a lot to get me interested in naval warfare in the first place. This one did it with its dead simple controls and nice, shiny graphics.
I haven't played a wargame in years. Is there anything decent and free out there that I can give a go to find out whether I still have the patience for one?
Oh jeez, Road to Moscow. Don't ever mention that again.
I think it officially died a ways back.
Another post of COTA love. I think it is an elegant and interesting wargame. It is especially good in allowing “fighting withdrawals” and trade offs time/ space that hex/ counter systems struggle with. Plus the power of artillery… in HTTR the key to winning was to find and disrupt the arty units asap, in COTA they are less skittish
However, a truism in both management & war, is the higher you are, the fewer decisions you need to make in any given period. Because COTA is a division/ brigade level game, the decisions/ time are quite few. (i.e. this brigade will hold this line for six hours, then withdraw to the next position) This is realistic, but you do find yourself watching plans unfold/ fall apart at times, now and again tweaking it somewhat. Or a lot if your brigade is being flanked!
But! But if you make the victory condition something like "Hold out for 10 turns" or "Retain control of at least 50 resource points out of 500" or "Save at least 20% of your units" or something like that, as is commonly done, then it's fine. You can win by losing less badly than expected.
Of course this silly tweaking of victory conditions doesn't change the underlying scenario at all, so let us say Napoleon will still lose the Battle of the Nile every time -- from his point of view -- but maybe this time the L'Orient won't explode and a couple more British ships will be wrecked before the French strike, so the French player will get another hundred victory points and win the game if not the battle....
There's a sequel which costs money but I'd recommend this one for starters.