Thursday, July 24, 2014

Some Thoughts on the Ten Games, Ten Times Challenge

I'm 22% into the 10 games, 10 times, challenge and I thought I should post an update, because I think the experience has already been worthwhile.

What I am finding, and it confirms what I think most of us already know, that multiple plays of a game help reinforce knowledge of the rules, help us learn and improve strategy and tactics, and help us decide how we really feel about a game beyond the first impressions.

By way of example:

One of the games on my list, Urbion, is a solitaire card game that offers both a basic game, and several advanced options, all within one box. 

I had thought when I started that I would focus on getting into those advanced options, since I had already played the basic game a number of times. 

However, I found on the first game  after I officially declared the challenge for myself (and game here means gaming session. I can play multiple games of Urbion in an hour, but I only count that as 1 for the sake of the challenge) that I not only needed a complete rules refresher, but that I had been doing a few things incorrectly the first 5 games which I had credited myself.

It wasn't until the 7th game that I finally won playing the basic rules. 

The game was harder to win than I thought it might be, but, with repeated play, I had developed some strategies that seemed to work, and i was seeing things I could do each game turn that I couldn't see in those earlier games.

About 2 weeks passed between the 8th and 9th session, and so I decided to stick with the basic game. Lo and behold, I remembered the rules! I didn't win mind you, but I played well enough to feel like it was time to try the first of the advanced options.

In the 10th game, I tried the first of the advanced options. 

They add a fair degree of difficulty and the first option alone includes many possible choices. I greatly underestimated the depth of this game in the sense that I thought I'd explore the all of the advanced rules, or at least many, in 10 games.

This was a pleasant surprise and I see that I will get many more hours of enjoyment from this game. So, despite having completed the challenge for Urbion, I will continue playing it.

Awesome, right?

Well, all is not rainbows and unicorns in the realm of Ol' Tabletop:

I have played 7 games now of Nuts! Final Version, and all of these games have been infantry only. I have yet to touch the vehicle rules, nor have I tried the Chocolate & Cigarettes rules. 

Whenever I played Nuts! 2.0, I was always looking up something or other, and that was the case when I started playing Final Version. However, by game 5, except for the non-player "ai" and the reinforcements table, I needed to only refer to a chart once in awhile; repeated play has its merits. 

By the time I finished the 6th game (which was the first mission I completed successfully), I was feeling dissatisfied and started to consider whether or not I should cut my losses and pick a different game to play ten times. 

Another benefit of repeated play: This is a game that at first i was quite happy with but something about the game, after several plays had soured that - having the experience of playing multiple games of Nuts! meant I had data to mine to find the source of my dissatisfaction.

What I found was, it's not the rules generally, but that I don't really like the "ai" for the non-player side. 

This isn't to say the tables controlling the non-player side aren't well done (I lost to it 5 times in a row after all), but that the dice rolling each turn for tactics doesn't suit me - even though it provides a result, it still requires interpretation and I have to wonder then, why roll each turn at all?

What's more, with Nuts!, and the THW reaction system in general, I don't think a non-player decision table is necessary.

All you need is to know the enemy's mission and maybe their general posture (aggressive, cautious, or somewhere in the middle). That should be enough - because the rest of the rules will take control away from you, making sure that, even if you try to make the enemy do something stupid, you'll probably fail because they'll duck back to cover. 

Finally, the provided NP rules and the reaction tables themselves, don't provide an easy way to determine when or if the NP enemy will surrender or fall back. 

Rather than throw the baby out with the bath water, I dropped the built-in NP tactics rules (although i kept the rules for moving PEFs as I like those) and used a much simpler system of my own for game 7.

The result was a more enjoyable game (I'll post a write-up tomorrow).

Regardless, after 7 games I don't know if Nuts! is going to be the go-to game for me at this scale of battle - which, even when it starts with a single squad, ends up being around a platoon on at least one side, if not both. It's too many individual reactions and resulting statuses that have to be indicated (even if you roll once for the group, it applies to each individual - your rep 3 Private is going to react differently than your rep 5 Corporal).

Iron Ivan's Disposable Heroes/Coffin For Seven Brothers or my own Featherstone's Nuts! (which I continue to tweak) are probably more likely to scratch the squad to platoon game for me, although they should each be subjected to a similar 10 game experience, to be sure.

I have 3 games left in the challenge for Nuts! and I have decided these will all explore the Chocolate & Cigarettes rules. 

This is something new between 2.0 and 3.0. At 3-5 figures, this is the scale of game at which I think THW rules shine - CR3:FV is always a blast to play with just a handful of figures, and I'm looking forward to seeing how the additional role-playing elements add to the game.


  1. I agree with the stick to one system idea In high school I had two gaming groups, I was the only common member. My AD&D group was all AP type students (humble-brag!!). We had started in Junior High, and are games became less frequent as we got older and busier, but we could run a game on truly short notice. e.g. we would all find ourselves in the same place with time on our hands-game on.

    The other group started with The Fantasy Trip but moved on to other things. We played more frequently but some of the guys weren't into getting all the games and studying the rules. It was frustrating for them (and the others having to explain things-again) when the couldn't remember how Battletech differed from Car Wars. It wasn't until we all liked and concentrated on Starfleet Battles that it got easier and more fun. We even managed to play in one of the study centers sometimes. The teachers must have looked at it and seen the hexagons and figured it was a Math or Physics project-and probably never asked because they didn't know what it was.

    So I don't think dilettante playing gets one to the sweet-spot of gaming as often as committing to one or a couple of rulesets. IMHO.

    Also, the BEST set of WWII platoon level rules are Chain of Command.

    Check out this video to understand.

    1. Hi Stu Rat,
      It's funny how on how something so obvious as playing a game a number of times is better than hopping from ruleset to ruleset is so easily discarded in the face of readily available options.

      It is a bit of the "collector" urge, but also something else maybe, a quest for the perfect set of rules? A feeling like everyone else is having more fun with their rules of choice? i don't know. Either way, in the face of the evidence, I can no longer justify such rushing from rules to rules.

      That said, I've started watching the Chain of Command videos - I think I have a few more to go, but so far I am intrigued. It seems to have good solo potential as well, which as I play all of my wargames solo, it's something I look for.

      We'll see how long I can resist the purchase (i think i may require myself to play 10 games of DHC7B before I'm allowed to even consider it!).


  2. Thank you for the update. Very cool you're trying it.

    Keep the updates coming and when I'm able to play some more I'll update as well.

    I can't decide on CoC - I really want to like them, but am having a tough time getting through te rules.

    1. The updates will definitely keep coming. I think this is a worthwhile experience that has value beyond just playing more games more often.

  3. Thanks for posting your views on the games. I have Nuts and I'd like them for very small games but the larger games I don't think I'd like all the reactions. This of course is based on my limited understanding of the rules at this time but Im going to try the 10 games myself to get a good understanding.


    1. It's absolutely worth taking this challenge - reading the rules is one thing, playing them something else, and playing them many times is quite another thing entirely.