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The Split - Review

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Bugs: Recent Topics Paging, Uploading Images & Preview (11 Dec 2020)

Recent Topics paging, uploading images and preview bugs require a patch which has not yet been released.

× For those who like to push chits.

Comancheria

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15 Dec 2016 23:08 - 15 Dec 2016 23:09 #240734 by Gary Sax
Comancheria was created by Gary Sax
Wanted to gather any F:AT thoughts on this. I just got my preorder this week and set up the tutorial. Seriously forget reading through the rules straight through, start with the playbook tutorial.

Anyway, haven't played much yet but my first instinct going through the rules is that I'm liking it better than Navajo Wars. Some of it is down to the situation---the Comanche were just straight up more warlike and so the game more closely resembles a more traditional wargame. You have bases that have leaders of different quality which activate bands of warriors to go fuck shit up. Anyway, I'm looking forward to trying it, it's making more sense to me than Navajo Wars.
Last edit: 15 Dec 2016 23:09 by Gary Sax.
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16 Dec 2016 10:36 - 16 Dec 2016 10:36 #240780 by Gary Sax
Replied by Gary Sax on topic Comancheria
Just got through the tutorial... this is just about as complicated as Navajo Wars but initial thoughts are do not sleep on how much more straightforward it is than NW.
Last edit: 16 Dec 2016 10:36 by Gary Sax.

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16 Dec 2016 10:42 #240782 by MacDirk Diggler
Replied by MacDirk Diggler on topic Comancheria
Terrible name for a game.... sounds like what you'd get if you drank unfiltered water when visiting the reservation.

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23 Jan 2017 16:39 #242888 by Unicron
Replied by Unicron on topic Comancheria
Solitaire games aren't really my thing, but I picked it up based on the subject, and I'm really glad that I did. It's a little procedural, but not painfully so. Ultimately, this is still a game and not a puzzle with plenty of decisions to make and opportunities to mismanage resources.

I'm completely terrible at this btw, but it was pretty fun. Also, I heeded your advice on just jumping into the tutorial. I read through the rules afterward, which made learning it quite manageable. Did you prefer this to Navajo Wars?
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23 Jan 2017 17:34 #242892 by Gary Sax
Replied by Gary Sax on topic Comancheria
Haven't played it after my initial flurry, but I did prefer this to NW. They are very similar in engine, though.

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06 Jun 2017 23:33 #249527 by Gary Sax
Replied by Gary Sax on topic Comancheria
This game is so good! It has typical GMT wargame problems and is brutally procedural. You need to devote 2-3 fumbling, frustrating games to it... but if you can it's really quite good.

The biggest thing about it is that a) it's more of an assertive game than Navajo Wars. I think that makes the game better. The Comanche have some wargame like behavior, though it's handled with pretty non-wargame system. It makes it easier to understand what you're supposed to do.

The other thing, and the reason to play the game, is the interaction between the AI system and player behavior. It's tied together intimately and it's great design. I'm going to write something up for the front page.

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08 Jun 2017 10:25 #249610 by Gary Sax
Replied by Gary Sax on topic Comancheria
I actually beat the first era for the first time AMA (rulebook " difficulty: easy")

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18 Dec 2017 22:34 #259305 by Gary Sax
Replied by Gary Sax on topic Comancheria
re: the game I played in the board games played thread. I played quite prudently today, was set up for an easy victory in the intro era and rolling into the next era... and then it all fell apart. Comancheria has the best push your luck system I've ever played. Push your luck games rarely "get" me, I don't have much of a gambler's personality if I'm playing for real and not shits and giggles. But playing this game, fuck. The core raiding mechanic is a chit draw push your luck and it's so, so easy to just do one more raid when you draw 3 chits that make your enemy act. "I just need a success in the next one to get a ravaged counter and then play passage of time and get rid of the settlement." Before you know it you've tried 3 raids, one after another, and you've stacked a titanic 10+ action point enemy offensive against you for that one success chit pull. It's brilliant---and you have no one to blame but your hotheaded personality.

This game I tried a different tack strategically. Usually I go horsemanship/warfare/raiding and go hot on raiding. But this time I decided to start horsemanship (for the IMHO necessary +1 in a fight) but then go lords of the plains, which is evasion and harrassment to slow down armies. Totally different game. Stay under radar, only raid when you have to or you can finish a settlement near the end of the turn, and make sure you don't feed action points to the enemy. It was not obvious to me when I first started playing how powerful the tech cards are. But there are multiple ways to play this game and once you get to tech level 2 or 3 your strategy is completely shaped by those choices.

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19 Dec 2017 00:21 #259306 by Cranberries
Replied by Cranberries on topic Comancheria

and get rid of the settlement.


I love that your goal is to get rid of settlements. I wonder what Ian Bogost would say about the procedural rhetoric of this game.

My great-great grandfather, the notorious Lot Smith, was killed in a gunfight by a Navajo man. The story I grew up with was that he had been shot in the back after a dispute about grazing sheep. Years later a native american guy showed up at the Lot Smith family reunion and carefully explained that Lot Smith had pulled a gun on this guy's family and was shooting towards them to scare them off, so the Navajo man who was grazing his sheep (and had been told he could by the previous owner) fired back. His story makes the most sense.
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19 Dec 2017 12:08 #259323 by Gary Sax
Replied by Gary Sax on topic Comancheria
I think that the choice to make this game a solo game is a really good one, thematically. It also prevents any attempt to take the focus off the Comanche by having some sort of elaborate system of American, Spanish or Mexican politics, perhaps controlled by the player and instead laser focuses you on the chosen perspective.
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01 Apr 2018 16:20 - 02 Apr 2018 11:42 #266833 by Gary Sax
Replied by Gary Sax on topic Comancheria
This game can be a real motherfucker. I'm not sure if that's a feature or a bug. A little of both.

Sometimes I think it's thematic and well placed, being in a First Nation on the plains during the era would have been a real motherfucker with lots of arbitrary shit descending on you outside of your control, and sometimes completely out of your ability to predict. The start/stop schizo enemy AI plays into this really nicely, but that's also alleviated by the brilliant AI system in this game that makes most of the AI's momentum dependent on whether you get aggressive (which you have to). Even in some of the fuck you event cards, it still works. I think "epidemic," a repeating card that takes your bands down by 1 strength at the beginning of the turn (a huge penalty) makes some good solid sense and encourages play you should be interested in anyway---keeping strong, well populated bands in your rancherias is something you will want to do anyway to respond to threats.

But then there are a few events that happen in the event deck which are just infuriating and not in a fun way. They're in that category of event that says "well, you have to know this and this thing is in this era deck and have this specific thing on hand to prevent disaster." There's a little bit of this in Twilight Struggle, if you know what I'm talking about. I drew a card that said if I didn't have at least one prisoner chit in my rancheria closest to Spanish Santa Fe, it would be arbitrarily destroyed and all bands killed. Poof. It made me shake my head. The previous turn I had had a prisoner chit just sitting there but I traded it for a trade good. That's what prisoners are for in this game, getting food, trade goods, and guns. They're like fungible currency that can also supplement your band sizes. For the game to simply trigger a disastrous event, that will probably affect your biggest, strongest rancheria at this point in the game is just kind of disappointing. There isn't a ton of that in this game but there is some. I guess I'll keep a prisoner in my rancheria A next time I play and get to era II. (shrug)
Last edit: 02 Apr 2018 11:42 by Gary Sax.
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02 Apr 2018 10:32 #266865 by iguanaDitty
Replied by iguanaDitty on topic Comancheria
Just wanted to say thanks for continuing to write up your experiences of this game. Theoretically I'm interested but in practice I would not get it to the table, so I haven't splurged and bought it. So I'm living vicariously through you :)

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03 Apr 2018 12:28 #266907 by Unicron
Replied by Unicron on topic Comancheria

Gary Sax wrote: But then there are a few events that happen in the event deck which are just infuriating and not in a fun way. They're in that category of event that says "well, you have to know this and this thing is in this era deck and have this specific thing on hand to prevent disaster." (shrug)


I agree wholeheartedly. It suits the narrative, but it doesn't make for a fun game. I've always played starting in the first era and attempting to push through all four. The first few plays, I didn't make it out of the first era. I have never gotten to the fourth. Often my plays are compromised by an ill-timed event (or sequence of events). It's not something that can be planned for in some cases. The two times that I made the most progress were plays that I would chalk up to fabulous luck more than strategy.

Don't get me wrong. It can be an engaging game, but it's primarily a press your luck affair with random gotcha events and the occasional teleporting doom columns that can make planning nearly impossible. Again, preserving the player's agency really isn't the point of the game, but every time I put it away, I need a few months off.

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03 Apr 2018 13:49 #266912 by Cranberries
Replied by Cranberries on topic Comancheria

Again, preserving the player's agency really isn't the point of the game


That throwaway line triggered a cascade of thoughts about reality. Carry on.
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02 Jul 2021 19:14 #324390 by Gary Sax
Replied by Gary Sax on topic Comancheria
spacebiff.com/2021/07/02/comancheria/

Dan Thurot finally comes around on this one. ;)
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