"Generic" Critical Hit Historical Modules: A New Thing?

Pitman

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So as I've been working on my website update, I have been inspecting the recent Critical Hit historical module products of St. Lo and Desperate Hours and come to an interesting tentative conclusion that they represent a new type of CH product we may well see more of in the future, for reasons explained below.

Both of these products contain a historical map. But beyond that, almost everything is "off-the-rack" components. The countersheets provided are basically generic (and perhaps interchangeable between the games) and each module only has a measly 2-4 pages of rules--and, when examined, extremely few of the rules seem to be new rules or even necessarily relevant to the specific module (other than a few that contain terrain). Rather, the bulk of the few rules in each module is taken up by generic SSRs that have been common in CH modules featuring Americans and Germans recently, such as bayonet charges and marching fire ("borrowed" from Kinetic Energy a few years ago), Light Slope Rules, Handi-Talkies, Gammon Bombs, and the infamous "optional" Cargo Trailer rules.

Moreover, the scenarios tend to be simplistic, with forces typically arrayed simply on the map, and no reinforcements, using basic victory conditions. No playtesters at all are listed, and you may derive the necessary conclusions about that.

So basically these are cobbled together historical modules, with generic rules and a few scenarios hastily cobbled together for the historical map, probably none of which were playtested. Unless CH somehow gets a new playtest and development group to replace the one they lost several years ago, I suspect we will see a lot more of this type of product going forward, which require minimum effort on the part of RT.
 

clubby

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I've often wondered how a company can put out such a high volume of products continuously over the years. I mean I know they rehash many of their products over and over again, but they also seem to come out with a lot of "new" products as well. Like you said, makes you wonder about the care put into such products.

I will relate my one CH experience as a customer. A few years ago I ordered the personalized leader counters as a gift for my son. I ordered them WELL in advance of Christmas and I think I received them sometime around February or March. Not really that important in the grand scheme of things. Ray was nice enough to throw in a bunch of bonus counters with my son's name on them as well as a full countersheet of what I can only assume to be other people's counter orders. Our we're all okay, but at least 1/4 of the counters I received had backs that were different from the front. Different morale, different names. I really spoke to the level of quality control. Hopefully that's better now.
 

Honza

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CH must get an awful lot of submissions from designers if it is to release so many products. For example what about all the D-Day beach landing modules that are now being planned. There are about five of them including Omaha. Who are these guys who keep submitting their hard work to Ray?
 

xenovin

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Who are these guys who keep submitting their hard work to Ray?
CH has a "contributer's list" on their web site (see left side bar) and can only assume these are the scenario designers. I'm not familiar with the guys with 100+ submissions: http://tactical-level-gaming.com/compnew.html

I think what Mark discusses above is interesting as the description is the initial conception of a module before you flesh it out but it doesn't seem to be getting that detailed treatment. Ray has mentioned his son is in college so I can see the need for more products recently - trust me I can!
 

Mister T

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CH has a "contributer's list" on their web site (see left side bar) and can only assume these are the scenario designers. I'm not familiar with the guys with 100+ submissions: http://tactical-level-gaming.com/compnew.html
Probably 95% of this apparently impressive group are no longer contributing to CH.
Some of them are deceased and it is not reported.
 

Helmseye

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Mark, are you looking for owners of the new CH products to give you feedback?
 

Pitman

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CH must get an awful lot of submissions from designers if it is to release so many products. For example what about all the D-Day beach landing modules that are now being planned. There are about five of them including Omaha. Who are these guys who keep submitting their hard work to Ray?
No, they don't get a lot of submissions from designers, for obvious reasons. The two products referenced here seem to have been "designed," if you want to call it that, by RT. Same is true for many other recent products. Of recent products with other designers, most seem to be ancient submissions pulled from the vault and gussied up and released.
 

Pitman

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CH has a "contributer's list" on their web site (see left side bar) and can only assume these are the scenario designers. I'm not familiar with the guys with 100+ submissions: http://tactical-level-gaming.com/compnew.html

I think what Mark discusses above is interesting as the description is the initial conception of a module before you flesh it out but it doesn't seem to be getting that detailed treatment. Ray has mentioned his son is in college so I can see the need for more products recently - trust me I can!
That list is a list of almost everybody who has ever designed a scenario or cg or written an article or anything else (including ATS & the MiH games it bought) for CH in its 23 year history. It also seems to be anybody who has ever done a playtest for CH, as it includes one ASLer's (then) young son on it. It has some obvious omissions (including yours truly, as I once contributed a scenario to one scenario pack when asked by Dave Lamb), though. It is in no way at all a list of people who currently do things for Critical Hit. Nobody has "100_+ submissions," that's a list number (1, 2, 3, 4, etc.), not the number of submissions. Critical Hit does not currently seem to have any playtesters other than RT himself. In the few recent products that mention others, the products seem to be older submissions recently dusted off.
 

Pitman

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Mark, are you looking for owners of the new CH products to give you feedback?
I am always interested in hearing from veteran ASLers with discerning eyes about the ASL products they have played.
 

Pitman

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I've often wondered how a company can put out such a high volume of products continuously over the years. I mean I know they rehash many of their products over and over again, but they also seem to come out with a lot of "new" products as well. Like you said, makes you wonder about the care put into such products.

I will relate my one CH experience as a customer. A few years ago I ordered the personalized leader counters as a gift for my son. I ordered them WELL in advance of Christmas and I think I received them sometime around February or March. Not really that important in the grand scheme of things. Ray was nice enough to throw in a bunch of bonus counters with my son's name on them as well as a full countersheet of what I can only assume to be other people's counter orders. Our we're all okay, but at least 1/4 of the counters I received had backs that were different from the front. Different morale, different names. I really spoke to the level of quality control. Hopefully that's better now.
Critical Hit, like MMP, batch prints its counters, in order to save money. That means that it prints a bunch of countersheets together at the same time, sheets from different products. When Ray Tapio does his personalized leader countersheets, he very likely waits for a gap in a batch to appear and fills it with a sheet like that. He would have also had to wait until enough people ordered enough personalized counters to be able to fill a countersheet, or at least most of one. So for a product like that, as opposed to a "normal" product, there are almost always going to be delays. That is one of the few things that is not really the fault of Critical Hit. Now, the backs issue, that's a different matter, and par for the course.
 

clubby

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Realizing that would probably be the case, I ordered them WELL in advance on Christmas. When I said well in advance, I mean like before Labor Day.
 

Danish

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I've often wondered why people order anything from a company with such a poor reputation...
Some people will buy anything with ASL on it, if nothing else, then to just punch the counters, clip their corners and then store them away.
 

AZslim

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A cobbled together product from CH with pretty counters and map designed to make a quick buck without regards to how the game actually plays.

Doesn't sound like a new thing to me.
 

olli

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Some people will buy anything with ASL on it, if nothing else, then to just punch the counters, clip their corners and then store them away.
That description almost covers me but I do play scenarios from the packs and usually enjoy them. I also point out problems to Ray as well.
 

Robin Reeve

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There are themes that are not covered by official products or by in print TPP - such as the Spanish Civil War or Berlin.
So I believe that some players who are very interested in such themes will purchase CH products.
The remakes of official counters would interest players who have a lot of money to spend on less than necessary elements of the game.
I do that with precision dice, dice trays, tweezers, etc.
I won't with CH stuff, as I did have rather bad experiences with their scenarios and packs. But we are in a free world, aren't we?
 

djohannsen

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There are themes that are not covered by official products or by in print TPP - such as the Spanish Civil War or Berlin.
I grabbed one incarnation of the CH Arnhem packs, because I'm interested in the battle and the MMP HASL is just waaay out of reach (financially). I haven't yet tried the scenarios/campaign (been busy), but the map seems nice.
 

gulliver62

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I look at it like all markets. There are usually multiple tiers of products. I'm not buying a corolla and expecting S4 handling. As long as you match your expectations to the tier of product that you buy you don't have an issue. In this case, it would seem that you as a player are free to alter the elements of a scenario if you feel it doesn't meet your expectations. One difference I do see is that in other markets I don't expect to see luxury prices for economy products. If i expect that i may have to make alterations or the product is otherwise different (e.g. not really a historic scenario but a generic one on the historic map), then i don't want to pay as if the product was actually well researched and fully play tested. Fortunately, there are a lot of good folks that provide the information for me to make an informed decision.
 

Tuomo

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> In this case, it would seem that you as a player are free to alter the elements of a scenario if you feel it doesn't meet your expectations.

This is one of the very few things I can think of that might justify CH's behavior. There used to be a mindset (maybe descended from miniatures?) where players had more "ownership", I guess, of the scenario, and expected to tweak things to suit their tastes. I don't hear much about that kind of thing anymore, but in that light, CH is just cranking out raw product and supplying it to those who are gonna modify it anyway, so they don't really need a lot of polishing.

At least, that's what I gleaned from reading CH blurbs here and there, many moons ago. I could be wrong, but it struck me as a possible non-nefarious explanation for why they might just push out lots of raw product without much quality control. "Hey, we provide the maps, counters, and some general guidelines. YOU make them your own."

Course, it would be more honest if they just came right out and said that, and didn't charge the prices they do, but hey. Just thinking of possibilities. I put about 2% credence to this thought, with the other 98% going to avarice and laziness.
 
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