Scenarios that have changed over time

bprobst

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To be more accurate, scenarios that are looked at a bit differently than when they were first published and played.

Every player gains experience as he plays more games, becoming a better (or at least, less incompetent) player as he goes along. As a consequence, if you play a scenario that you haven't played in a very long time, chances are that you'll play it differently ("better") the second time around. That might mean that you now like something that you didn't enjoy much the first time, or equally you might now dislike what you used to think was a lot of fun.

What scenarios are affected by this changed perspective, in terms of not an individual player, but the ASL community as a whole?

IMO the "classic" example is Totsugeki!, which for a very long time (and many recorded games played) was seen as very, very balanced indeed. Yet, over time, as it was played even more, it became obvious that the scenario was actually quite pro-Japanese -- so much so that the version published in RS had quite a few changes made to it. The scenario was a certified "classic", and then "suddenly" it needed changes. Why would this be?

My personal theory is that for a long time there was a relative collective lack of experience in getting the most out of the Japanese strengths (and learning to deal with their weaknesses). As time went on, with the increasing ubiquity of internet discussions, and tools such as VASL allowing players to experience a greater range of play styles, more players learned more in less time and were able to put these lessons to good use. The Japanese began to win the scenario more often.

So: does anyone else have any other examples of scenarios that used to be thought of as "X" (where "X" can be terms like: "balanced", "huge fun", "terrible", "incredibly dull" or whatever) and now are thought of differently, simply because the collective experience of the ASL community has changed over time?
 

Jazz

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Cold Crocs for me. One of the first scenarios I ever won due to an opponent playing the German throwing in the towel.

When I went back to play it again a number of years later, the interplay between VC, not invoking NQ (brokies surrendering), and prisoners counting double VP was blatantly obvious to me when it was not so in my first playing.
 

ecz

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It's a great thread that points an aspect of the hobby often neglected.
I do not have an example here of a scenario like Totsugeky! in particular.
More in general I think that most scenarios over the years reveal invariably a way to be played " ideally" . This can affect balance and change the the perception that players have of it.

It's just a matter of quality (or luck) of the playtest stage . One scenario can appear balanced for several years, or several months, or just a few games. At a certain level all scenarios -when are studied in deep and played multiple times - become a little obsolete. Some scenarios more than others, some scenarios sooner than others and some scenarios (the best of the group) never in a meaningful way.
This happens for three possible reasons in decreasing order : quality of the playtest, change in playing style, change of a key rule.

I can see just three ways to avoid a scenario becomes obsolete for these factors and resists as an immortal classic finely balanced forever:

1) make a perfect playtest that analyze at 100% all gaming possibilities and foresees any future change of playing style and (why not?) also future rule changes...
2) update peridocally (every five years?) the scenario publishing a new version of the card with new SSRs or VCs or slight OB adjustments to hold the scenario on the blade of a very difficult/challenging side choice;
3) think to a new gender of scenarios where VCs are changeable (between a close minimum and a maximum) and are mutually decided by the players via a bid system assigning sides at the same time. This allows a perfect (and I say perfect because subjectively true for each pair of players) fine-tuning of the scenario to their expectations, that is the thing that really matters.
 
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Philippe D.

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I can see just three ways to avoid a scenario becomes obsolete for these factors and resists as an immortal classic finely balanced forever:

1) make a perfect playtest that analyze at 100% all gaming possibilities and foresees any future change of playing style and (why not?) also future rule changes...
2) update peridocally (every five years?) the scenario publishing a new version of the card with new SSRs or VCs or slight OB adjustments to hold the scenario on the blade of a very difficult/challenging side choice;
3) think to a new gender of scenarios where VCs are changeable (between a close minimum and a maximum) and are mutually decided by the players via a bid system assigning sides at the same time. This allows a perfect (and I say perfect because subjectively true for each pair of players) fine-tuning of the scenario to their expectations, that is the thing that really matters.
What's so bad about older scenarios being somehow phased out?

Your first suggestion is, of course, completely impossible; the second seems to me to be a lot of work (not to mention, it creates a bookkeeping nightmare - I find it hard enough to make scans of most of my scenarios for reference and ease of consultation; if I need to update them regularly, it suddenly becomes much worse).

And for your third suggestion... opinions will of course vary, but for me it's a perfect way of ensuring that I won't ever play the scenario. I tend to avoid variable OB/VC scenarios - it's hard enough to me to figure out a reasonable plan when I know what I'll be facing; it becomes infinitely worse if I can't figure it out, or if I need to make choices in the dark. CGs offer plenty of that; I strongly prefer to have regular scenarios.
 

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In my experience, Khamsin was that scenario. The first time we had played that scenario was recently after the release of WoA. Neither of us had delved into the desert rules all that much and both of us were relatively comparable in playing abilities. We had a blast with the scenario trying to figure out the rules as we went as much as the play of the scenario and it came down to the wire. Shortly after my 1st deployment in the 2004-05 we decided to have at it again upon my return. Though still relearning many of the desert rules (I hadn't played a scenario in almost 2 years), because our general skill level had progressed, the scenario became somewhat of a barker even though I won and my opponent had played many other scenarios during my absence (we're still both relatively comparable in game play capabilities). After we had played Cold Crocodiles again with pretty much the same ultimate results, at least as the feeling towards the scenario goes, we pretty much swore off on playing our old "Classics" again content in replaying them from memory (BTW I had lost the 2nd playing of that scenario). That is not to say that either of the scenarios are broken, or even require updating, but the experience surely wasn't there for a replay of those scenarios (Totsugeki being another).
 

Philippe D.

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Replaying an old favorite scenario from one's "early days" is bound to generate disappointment - there is a lot of nostalgia involved.

Back when I was learning the game (early 90's), I played a number of scenarios (infantry mostly - didn't get into vehicles for some time, and we also avoided OBA or most of what comes in Chapter E) that I remember with fondness - notably some Tactiques scenarios like Entre le Marteau et l'Enclume (Between Hammer and Anvil) and Commando Schenke. My memory of these playings is of extremely enjoyable games, but I suspect a significant part of it comes from the fact that I was young, and discovering the game, and experiencing the game system for the first times. I haven't tried playing them again in recent years - I'm not saying they are bad scenarios or whatever - but if I did, I expect I wouldn't find the same excitment level as I did 25 years ago.

Also, with the number of playing opportunities I get (something like 2-3 games a month over VASL, and a few FtF opportunities a year - way more than I ever got in past years, all thanks to VASL), there are too many scenarios to pick from to spend much time on replays. I can understand that people who play much more than that would want to try to experience the same scenario multiple times - just don't expect the same level of novelty and excitment with every replay.
 

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What's so bad about older scenarios being somehow phased out?

Your first suggestion is, of course, completely impossible; the second seems to me to be a lot of work (not to mention, it creates a bookkeeping nightmare - I find it hard enough to make scans of most of my scenarios for reference and ease of consultation; if I need to update them regularly, it suddenly becomes much worse).

And for your third suggestion... opinions will of course vary, but for me it's a perfect way of ensuring that I won't ever play the scenario. I tend to avoid variable OB/VC scenarios - it's hard enough to me to figure out a reasonable plan when I know what I'll be facing; it becomes infinitely worse if I can't figure it out, or if I need to make choices in the dark. CGs offer plenty of that; I strongly prefer to have regular scenarios.
Nothing bad, we live with it from the beginning.
about my suggestions the first two are a provocation to say that it is unavoidable that most scenarios, unlike wine, get worse with age.

the third is just a little suggestion to try a new way to conceive VCs and side assigment process that - among the other good things - would cancel any obsolescence problem of any scenario. At least it is worth a try, in my opinion
 

Philippe D.

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OK, that's fine with me then - as long as not all designers follow your suggestion #3 (and good luck getting all of them to agree on anything!), it's fine with me... :)
 

Eagle4ty

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One of the things I have done "in home" is redesign some of the older scenarios utilizing newer boards (in relation to the initial boards used) that more accurately reflect the terrain being represented. Surprisingly, very few have required much of an OB change and very few have had to have their VC or SSRs changed dramatically. Of course take this with a grain of salt as almost all these "revamped" scenarios have been played solitaire as it's awful difficult to get another player to sign-on to this approach when there's so much good new stuff out there.
 

ASLSARGE

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One of the things I have done "in home" is redesign some of the older scenarios utilizing newer boards (in relation to the initial boards used) that more accurately reflect the terrain being represented. Surprisingly, very few have required much of an OB change and very few have had to have their VC or SSRs changed dramatically. Of course take this with a grain of salt as almost all these "revamped" scenarios have been played solitaire as it's awful difficult to get another player to sign-on to this approach when there's so much good new stuff out there.
I have taken many of the scenarios I originally designed many, many years ago and have updated them using some of the newer boards as well. I found out that most only needed a tweek or two to get them back in synch. These are all for future BFP products so you will be seeing them making their appearance sometime during the next 3 - 10 years...or not........
 

von Marwitz

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One of the things I have done "in home" is redesign some of the older scenarios utilizing newer boards (in relation to the initial boards used) that more accurately reflect the terrain being represented. Surprisingly, very few have required much of an OB change and very few have had to have their VC or SSRs changed dramatically. Of course take this with a grain of salt as almost all these "revamped" scenarios have been played solitaire as it's awful difficult to get another player to sign-on to this approach when there's so much good new stuff out there.
You might want to apply as the chief scenario designer for CH. Of course, this advice it to be taken with a grain of salt, too... :D

von Marwitz
 

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Interesting thread. I would (humbly) submit that this was some of the reasons why many of our Kinetic Energy scenarios had developed a reputation for imbalance - there was a rather steep learning curve at the time (even on play), and at a time when we'd just started to crack the code on how ASL was played. Things that may be considered 'old hat' now were in their early stages back then, and our play tester pool was primarily rather experienced guys. We tended to push for what was considered 'balanced' (a dubious quest) for experienced players, and also for re-play (something that rarely occurs nowadays). We also tended to get 'better' in our play testing as time went on, but we all do that, save some huckster up in NY.

I'd like to think that if some of those old scenarios were played today, they'd show a bit better...but who knows. ;-)
 

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An anecdote, from back in the day. I was new at the time to the game, and playing the grand old man of ASL, Cloyde Angell. Decided to play "Guryev's HQ". With little time to prepare, I decided that I'd just go ahead and mimic the set up from the ASL Annual (or was it The General?) that had the Series Replay on the game. Think it was Fish vs. Burk, or Nixon...and it was a fun read.

Well, although it was a 'fun read', our game wasn't nearly so. Found out that the 'up front' defense from the magazine was rather suicidal. Took Cloyde a couple of Fire Phases to rip me to shreds and stroll into the objective. Learned that lesson!
 

GeorgeBates

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We tended to push for what was considered 'balanced' (a dubious quest) for experienced players, and also for re-play (something that rarely occurs nowadays).
Here's a counterpoint to the second half of that statement - consider all the variable OBs, VC options and purchase tables which have been introduced so that players may make different choices for a particular strategy in one match and try something very different in the next.
 

ecz

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Interesting thread. I would (humbly) submit that this was some of the reasons why many of our Kinetic Energy scenarios had developed a reputation for imbalance - there was a rather steep learning curve at the time (even on play), and at a time when we'd just started to crack the code on how ASL was played. Things that may be considered 'old hat' now were in their early stages back then, and our play tester pool was primarily rather experienced guys. We tended to push for what was considered 'balanced' (a dubious quest) for experienced players, and also for re-play (something that rarely occurs nowadays). We also tended to get 'better' in our play testing as time went on, but we all do that, save some huckster up in NY.

I'd like to think that if some of those old scenarios were played today, they'd show a bit better...but who knows. ;-)
which KE scenario was your favorite at that time?
 

wrongway149

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. We tended to push for what was considered 'balanced' (a dubious quest) for experienced players, and also for re-play (something that rarely occurs nowadays). We also tended to get 'better' in our play testing as time went on, but we all do that, save some huckster up in NY.
This question still comes up during playtest. So, the model is still relevant. A good example is 'Heart of Athena' -- Too many partisan players still try to play them like 'regular' troops, and many scenarios encourage that by design. Try that here, and you will lose. That was a deliberate design decision.
 

Mister T

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This question still comes up during playtest. So, the model is still relevant. A good example is 'Heart of Athena' -- Too many partisan players still try to play them like 'regular' troops, and many scenarios encourage that by design. Try that here, and you will lose. That was a deliberate design decision.
Dirty play is the name of the game here, if only because Partisans would emerge from the sewers :)
 
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Questions for the thread

1) Do all scenarios have an optimal solution? A perfect attack or defense that will always generate a win? If so, is that good? Should they? If so, is (or should be) discovering such an optimal solution a product of experience - ie 'good' players - or luck?
2) What does balance mean? Does it mean either side as a 50% chance at victory immaterial of experience? Or is balance that any two players of the same skill level have a 50% odds of victory?
3) How do we deal with sample size issues in design? In a 6 turn scenario with less than 20 units total the number of rolls that materially change the win probability is probably under 10.

I do agree that some scenarios have aged worse than others. I think there has been a big focus on movement in the last decade that was not there in the initial scenarios. Take the scenario Bridge of the 7 Planets in Croix de Guerre. Its 9ish turns for the attacker to go 13ish hexes. It is clearly meant for a prep-break-defender-move tactic. A more aggressive attacker can win it in 5 easily.

Further do I think player skill/knowledge can 'break' scenarios. I think the Japanese are the perfect example of this. There are lots of PTO scenarios that don't really work if the Japanese player has no idea what they are doing and other player does.
 
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