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Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Ian >> WOTR - (Response to Steve)

Steve - I can support your statement about treading on sacred ground creating a tougher critic, but I am not aure I can attribute that as being the only source for strong negative reactions. The fact that is sacred ground would motivate those negatively impressed to share their views.

I am not a diehard Tolkien fan, but I do know a few and have played the game to our mutual enjoyment; just a couple of data points I know. A very common complaint I have heard is about the extraordinary amount of setup time required before the game can begin. To me, this complaint I can characterize as typically from a player who is very used to getting the board for a euro set up, ready to go in 3 minutes or so. I do not believe that this would be a complaint I would expect to hear from a diehard wargamer. In your example of Wallenstein, which is also certainly in the in-between space, a game can be set up certainly in less than half the time for an unpainted WOTR game.

This brings up another potential source of difference between the wargamer and the eurogamer... being the tolerance/enjoyment of 'chrome' in a game. Traditionally some wargamers gets a lot of satisfaction from game elements that help represent the historical accuracy of events coming up during gameplay even to the extent that the additional burden on rules length, situational ambiguity overcome by post-release errata are an expected part of the hobby. In the case of WOTR, this historical accuracy can translate to a parallel of a well understood and documented content-rich work of fiction. I would contend that an intolerance for chrome could create a tough critic from the viewpoint of a euro-focused gamer.

Now amongst some of the reasons why this title does rate highly for me on a personal note:
  • this is a 'chrome' game that I can bring out from time to time without making a significant time re-investment to relearn the rules.
  • the movie trilogy offers a very high visual relationship to the game on top of the literature. I can imgaine in rich detail the retreat into stronghold siege warfare..
  • an appreciation of the dedication of the pre-release efforts that went into such a game that is new evident would be held under such scrutiny
  • nostalgic remembrance and re-introduction to a past hobby of miniature painting. Some may see the ambiguity of the good forces as a negative, on a personal note, it was the desire for clarity that brought back days as a teen painting scores of lead figurines
  • the appeal to the would be 'amateur designer' in me. I love the Sauron dice mechanic for the hunt, the partially known position of the fellowship, the fight for control over tiles targetting the entry into Mordor.

In summary, I believe there are many possible factors, and the fact that no one can really point to a definitive proof allows for the existance of multiple sources. I do acknowledge that there are many flaws that are in the game, such as physical region/unit size limitations and the like, but for what this game offers to me, I would not consider removing from my collection. This leads me to another potential source of evaluative angst...

How do I rate this game? I consider myself more in the euro camp and the defacto scale is the BGG scale. Well the BGG scale tells me that if I want to rate WOTR an 8 or mote, I will never turn down a game... Well that is not going to fly, there are many reasons for me not to not bring this one on the table:

- I don't believe my opponent will enjoy themselves and would rather suggest an alternative we both will like
- I fell like something more social or dynamic right now
- I don't have the time right now - could go on...

If I deviate from the defacto scale, how can anyone else know how to interpret my rating..., but there are really distinctive things about this game that make it very meaningful for me. In the end, I decided to leave the defacto scale and substitute my own seat of the pants rating scale. If I had to take my game collection and order them in importance to me, how would they stack up? In this scenario, I tried to rank in relative terms of importance my enjoyment of other games in my collection. In this case an 8.3.

[sidenote](P.S., I am feeling a little awkward debating in this anonymous forum, I hope my written tone is ok, I much prefer having dialogue face-to-face, enjoying the discussion, but I am happy to give this a try, learning hopefully..)