Monster Scenario Design

glennhoek

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Hello guys,
I have been out of the hobby for a number of years since I joined the Army, got married, had a family, etc etc. Its been nearly 10 years since I played regularly, but I find it interesting to see what direction the game has gone since then, such as the emphasis on smaller, tournament-style scenarios.

When I played a number of years ago, it was with a group that enjoyed monster scenarios and campaign games. I would like to get the designer to eventually publish these campaign games, as they have been thoroughly playtested and are a ton of fun. I cut my teeth in ASL mostly on these large games, and the intensity and the steep learning curve made new players into veterans quickly. I was curious as to what the current ASL community’s reception to these scenarios might be. Let me describe them to you:

There are three large campaign games Mr. Johnson, the designer, has written. The first is a July 1942 German offensive against an unnamed Russian town (we nicknamed it Potatograd), a sort of historical but non-specific campaign game. It spans 16 geo mapboards (4x4), with overlays. It is ideally played with 6 players, three per side, with each player pairing off against his “regional” counterpart on the north, south, or west side of the town. The ultimate objective is to take all the stone building locations, and the German forces enter from the north and south beyond the village, the pincers of an off-map pincer attack. There is a third force that enters from the west, preceded by the retreating Russian forces. The campaign game spans 5 days if memory serves, with each day being 5-8 turns. We generally could finish a half turn in 3-5 hours, and played one night a week. It took us months to finish a campaign game. The most important aspect however, and the most attractive as a player, is the scale: Each player might control upward of a battalion’s worth of forces, and every “region” affects the way the game plays out for everyone. You get to see large, unit-level maneuvering, massed infantry attacks, fighter-bomber support, companies worth of armor, etc etc. The scale of the game makes it so it is nearly impossible to get diced, since any local tragedy you may suffer from crits and snipers will most likely be softened by similar misfortunes by your opponents elsewhere on the map and a healthy supply of similar units.

The second campaign game is really just a remix of the first, with roles and directions reversed. It is played on the same map arrangement, but is set in July 1944, with the Germans on the defense and the Russians attacking, from the east rather than the west. It is much more armor-centric than the 1942 campaign. In one playthrough, I was in charge of the eastern main assault, and had nearly 40 tanks (!!!) under my control. It was an incredibly unique experience, and a ton of fun.

The third campaign game is set in Nijmegen during Market Garden, and is recreated using 20 (!!!) geo mapboards with overlays, with rather accurate results. The counter density is much lower than in the 1942 or 1944 campaigns, with much less armor. A large portion of the American force enters via parachute landing, and features 10-3 General Gavin. Moreso than the previous campaign games, Nijmegen is often a collection of interrelated local conflicts, much more decentralized. I personally never played this campaign, but my friends told me wild stories about how it played out.

We also played the Beast at Bay scenario from KGP, which I am convinced is completely unwinnable from the German side, but that’s another conversation. Anyway, I am curious what interest these campaign games might spark in the community, and if they ever get published, whether anyone thinks they would play them. Thanks!
 

Vinnie

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There would be interest but how much play they would get is dubious. There are two streams in AsL. Those who play monsters and those who play one nighters. Of course there is crossover between them. Too many of us now have neither the space nor the time to play the monsters so have no real choice other than to play one nighters.

Add to this the conjectural aspect of the first two and I doubt you'd get many to venture into the game.basocally there's too much stuff out there to play.

There will be balance issues as well. Playing groups develop their own style of play and when two meet the outcomes can be very strange. Of the three of us who play regularly, I think I can say fairly I am the best, yet I am unable to win when playing a Friendly Fire scenario? Why, I do not know but their style does not suit my play style whatsoever. What your group found was balanced can turn out to be very unbalanced on general release.
 

volgaG68

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I like 'em all in their own time and place, but prefer very large OOB/Turn scenarios. I'm just now becoming somewhat interested in CGs, after 20+ years of not being so.
 

jwb3

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Honestly, I'm quite sure I'd never play the Eastern Front ones. Fun in concept, but just too big, too hard to get six players together, and for me personally, only knowing that I'm (supposedly!) recreating history can overcome those kinds of obstacles.

The Nijmegen one is much more up my alley; I'm a big fan of the campaign. It's still very doubtful I'd ever play it, but at the very least I'd feel like I was missing out on what might be a very interesting experience!

Still, I would encourage you and/or him to look into the idea of publishing them, not in any sort of money-making way, but just to get them out there for the public to see. A lot of us love to look at this sort of stuff, even if there's no chance we'll ever play it. Maybe put them up as PDFs here on Gamesquad, maybe make them available through the Scenario Archive for a nominal amount.



John
 

dlazov

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We had four of us playing the Tactiques Plains of Steel CG, it was blast of a Kursk East Front monster...
 

von Marwitz

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In fact I like the idea of multiplayer scenarios with two to three players per side each with their sector and played one of such many years back with great fun.
I agree that small dramas due to dice are much less likely to imbalance a monster scenario.

However, for most people it would be difficult to regulary get six ASL players together and to keep a large game on a table (FOBA proof) for months. At the same time I do not see how you could work out a multiplayer game via VASL.

von Marwitz
 

glennhoek

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There will be balance issues as well. Playing groups develop their own style of play and when two meet the outcomes can be very strange. Of the three of us who play regularly, I think I can say fairly I am the best, yet I am unable to win when playing a Friendly Fire scenario? Why, I do not know but their style does not suit my play style whatsoever. What your group found was balanced can turn out to be very unbalanced on general release.
Good point. I would still like to take his notes and publish them online somewhere. If nothing else, they are quite interesting.
 

witchbottles

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In fact I like the idea of multiplayer scenarios with two to three players per side each with their sector and played one of such many years back with great fun.
I agree that small dramas due to dice are much less likely to imbalance a monster scenario.

However, for most people it would be difficult to regulary get six ASL players together and to keep a large game on a table (FOBA proof) for months. At the same time I do not see how you could work out a multiplayer game via VASL.

von Marwitz
multiplayer via VASL is via Skype :) works well conf call the players for a 3 player game and all 3 into the room.

:)

KRL, Jon h
 

witchbottles

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Vinnie said this and it is pretty much true, but to break it down more:
ASL player types by scen size played:

1. FTF only players who do not have time / space for large scens or CGs . Tourney size or smaller made for this crowd, and a lot of them there are.

2. VASL FTF mainly players who handle larger scens and / or CGs on a weekly meeting time schedule more or less, with or w/o Skype.

3. VASL PBEM players who do not have time for more than smaller scens.

4. VASL PBEM plaers who use PBEM to tackle any scen or Cg with no problems.

5. CG / HASL / Monster afficionados ( like me) who either do so in a long term setup in their garage or game room and / or via VASL ( either FTF or PBEM or both.)


your scens now you can see which crowd you are "marketing " to. Remember, nowadays, there are plenty of scens and plenty of CGs to choose from.

That said, try releasing them if the designer prefers to"blind playtesting" to avoid the issues Vinnie brought up.

and the TPP guys are all gents, email em they are all on GS here, see if they might desire them?

KRL, Jon H
 

ASRomafan

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Hello guys,
I have been out of the hobby for a number of years since I joined the Army, got married, had a family, etc etc. Its been nearly 10 years since I played regularly, but I find it interesting to see what direction the game has gone since then, such as the emphasis on smaller, tournament-style scenarios.

When I played a number of years ago, it was with a group that enjoyed monster scenarios and campaign games. I would like to get the designer to eventually publish these campaign games, as they have been thoroughly playtested and are a ton of fun. I cut my teeth in ASL mostly on these large games, and the intensity and the steep learning curve made new players into veterans quickly. I was curious as to what the current ASL community’s reception to these scenarios might be. Let me describe them to you:

There are three large campaign games Mr. Johnson, the designer, has written. The first is a July 1942 German offensive against an unnamed Russian town (we nicknamed it Potatograd), a sort of historical but non-specific campaign game. It spans 16 geo mapboards (4x4), with overlays. It is ideally played with 6 players, three per side, with each player pairing off against his “regional” counterpart on the north, south, or west side of the town. The ultimate objective is to take all the stone building locations, and the German forces enter from the north and south beyond the village, the pincers of an off-map pincer attack. There is a third force that enters from the west, preceded by the retreating Russian forces. The campaign game spans 5 days if memory serves, with each day being 5-8 turns. We generally could finish a half turn in 3-5 hours, and played one night a week. It took us months to finish a campaign game. The most important aspect however, and the most attractive as a player, is the scale: Each player might control upward of a battalion’s worth of forces, and every “region” affects the way the game plays out for everyone. You get to see large, unit-level maneuvering, massed infantry attacks, fighter-bomber support, companies worth of armor, etc etc. The scale of the game makes it so it is nearly impossible to get diced, since any local tragedy you may suffer from crits and snipers will most likely be softened by similar misfortunes by your opponents elsewhere on the map and a healthy supply of similar units.

The second campaign game is really just a remix of the first, with roles and directions reversed. It is played on the same map arrangement, but is set in July 1944, with the Germans on the defense and the Russians attacking, from the east rather than the west. It is much more armor-centric than the 1942 campaign. In one playthrough, I was in charge of the eastern main assault, and had nearly 40 tanks (!!!) under my control. It was an incredibly unique experience, and a ton of fun.

The third campaign game is set in Nijmegen during Market Garden, and is recreated using 20 (!!!) geo mapboards with overlays, with rather accurate results. The counter density is much lower than in the 1942 or 1944 campaigns, with much less armor. A large portion of the American force enters via parachute landing, and features 10-3 General Gavin. Moreso than the previous campaign games, Nijmegen is often a collection of interrelated local conflicts, much more decentralized. I personally never played this campaign, but my friends told me wild stories about how it played out.

We also played the Beast at Bay scenario from KGP, which I am convinced is completely unwinnable from the German side, but that’s another conversation. Anyway, I am curious what interest these campaign games might spark in the community, and if they ever get published, whether anyone thinks they would play them. Thanks!
Welcome back to the game!!

Just some thoughts from one (like Jon) who also falls into that 5th and likely smallest subset of the ASL playing world. The lack of time, space or willing opponent limits the appeal of these monsters for most players. I helped co-design what is probably the largest officially released campaign game. A 4 map CG across 14 CG dates involved 100's of counters. When JP and I were talking it over we joked that the appeal of it would translate to, likely 10 people lmao! I don't think we were too far off, however our goal was to design the best monster of monsters for those who could/would play it. The feedback I've gotten has been very positive so I'm happy with it. We never thought it would be played by that many and it likely hasn't, but for those that have, they seemed to have loved it. The curious thing is the emails I've got have been from those that seemingly exist off the net so to speak. People whose usernames and posts I never remember seeing. There seems to be a large unported ASL playing (off the net) audience out there, just look at the sales of a particularTPP producer versus the number of posters on this forum. The numbers don't match, nowhere close. The audience is out there, you aren't going to find them on forums though, for whatever reason. Especially this one. Though I have my theories lol.

Another thought I didn't see mentioned. I think the CG/HASL/monster crowd has been spoiled in a way. Part of the appeal of those games is not simply the length, the tactics or strategy. It is the battlefield itself. I think the appeal of such large games, small enough as it is, would likely be cut even more by the lack of a proper map. I think some, I know I have personally, have been spoiled by the incredibly detailed and unique battlefields you play ASL on these days. I love CG's and monster scenarios but it would have to be something very special for something set on geoboards to make me want to play it.

As far as producing it. Jon again is right on. Your best bet as far as getting it published would be through TPP. They seem to be most receptive to small fries and part time, first time designers. I have my particular experiences with one and while it was not exactly what I would have wanted lol, the one thing I can say is. They published want we wanted published and with zero interference. They took they their money for our work, and we got full creative control. A fair trade in my book.
 

von Marwitz

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multiplayer via VASL is via Skype :) works well conf call the players for a 3 player game and all 3 into the room.

:)

KRL, Jon h
I do not see the trouble in getting all people into one room or into a Skype conference. However, in a team FTF game, players of each side can work on the current phase simulaneously, while I do not see that happening via VASL comfortably.

It might work out if:

- the "Center on opponent's moves" option is unchecked in the VASL preferences
- if the opponents of each sector have their individual skype channel along with an option to communicate with everyone separately (I do not know if Teamspeak might do the trick - never tried it)
- if some solution is found for the dice rolling because it won't work if everybody uses the same log simultaneously without major confusion.

von Marwitz
 

witchbottles

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I do not see the trouble in getting all people into one room or into a Skype conference. However, in a team FTF game, players of each side can work on the current phase simulaneously, while I do not see that happening via VASL comfortably.

It might work out if:

- the "Center on opponent's moves" option is unchecked in the VASL preferences
- if the opponents of each sector have their individual skype channel along with an option to communicate with everyone separately (I do not know if Teamspeak might do the trick - never tried it)
- if some solution is found for the dice rolling because it won't work if everybody uses the same log simultaneously without major confusion.

von Marwitz
Webcam for dice should work ok I think; you could open 4 small windows for 4 trays from dice towers or dice glasses.
Everyone on a Skype conf call channel ,and each team can maintain a side chat box open for communications.
most definite to uncheck those center on moves boxes.

this might work well. Esp for like "At the Narrow Passage".

KRL, Jon H
 
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