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Author Topic: A few acres of snow ?  (Read 6673 times)

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brokoli

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A few acres of snow ?
« on: January 31, 2012, 07:26:57 am »
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I heard a lot about this game inspired by Dominion. Do you have played it ? What do you think ?
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Davio

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Re: A few acres of snow ?
« Reply #1 on: January 31, 2012, 07:38:00 am »
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I heard it was broken.  ???

But that's not the reason I haven't tried it. The reason is no one in my group has bought it.  ;D
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theory

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Re: A few acres of snow ?
« Reply #2 on: January 31, 2012, 07:50:44 am »
+2

The AFAoS BoardGameGeek forums are amazing to read, even though I've never played the game.  Warning: if you are Captain_Frisk or someone else who doesn't want to hear this whole story (which may ruin your AFAoS experience), don't read below:

===

Timeline:

* AFAoS is made
* Soon after, someone discovers that the British has an unstoppably strong strategy.  From what I understand, it is basically the realization that trashing is good for your deck in this game.  How no one thought of playtesting a deck-thinning strategy in a deck-building game I cannot understand. 
* Lots of flamewars, with tons of Martin Wallace zealots insisting to the end that there is no way the game could be imbalanced
* out4blood goes 64-0 online playing nothing but the strategy.  People continue to defend Martin Wallace.
* After months of silence, in a rather snarky post, Martin Wallace releases a "fix" that he claims is just a "variant scenario" for the game, while denying that there is anything wrong.
* The fix does not help.  British continues to be unstoppably strong. 
* Martin Wallace admits the game is flawed and believes there is no way to remedy the balance issue except by introducing more "variant scenarios" every now and then, which is equivalent to P1 always wins in Dominion, but let's just keep releasing new sets of 10 cards so that P1 always ends up winning a little differently. 
* Martin Wallace also claims every single 2-player wargame ever made is just as broken as his.  Which is hugely insulting, speaking as someone who writes a Twilight Struggle blog.
* Flamewars continue forever.  out4blood is now 105-0 as British.

I ended up losing a lot of respect for this guy after reading through all this.  He released a fundamentally broken game without playtesting the most basic strategic principle of deckbuilding games.  He was mute for months while the debate raged and refused to engage the community on the issue.  Eventually, while passive-aggressively criticizing his customers that complained about this issue, he releases a fix that doesn't solve anything.  And now he's given up on the game, while claiming that every single two-player wargame ever made is similarly broken. 
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DStu

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Re: A few acres of snow ?
« Reply #3 on: January 31, 2012, 08:17:14 am »
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And now he's given up on the game, while claiming that every single two-player wargame ever made is similarly broken.

How is "wargame" defined in this context? Is it just the theme? Because I don't really see how the theme influences if something is likely to be broken or not?
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theory

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Re: A few acres of snow ?
« Reply #4 on: January 31, 2012, 08:18:12 am »
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I assume he was referring to an asymmetric 2-player game.
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DStu

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Re: A few acres of snow ?
« Reply #5 on: January 31, 2012, 08:20:06 am »
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I assume he was referring to an asymmetric 2-player game.

So like, say, Starcraft? (I don't now if the SC-boardgame is balanced [edit: or asymetric], but anyway...)
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theory

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Re: A few acres of snow ?
« Reply #6 on: January 31, 2012, 08:27:26 am »
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I just relistened to the podcast (http://www.boardgamegeek.com/boardgamepodcastepisode/73675/episode-152-a-few-minutes-of-show-with-martin-wall around 43:00), and his exact quote is "All 2-player wargames are broken at some level."  Chess, for instance, "must have an optimum strategy".  He says his fix is good enough for bad players, who won't realize that the game is broken. 

How does that feel?  Your game's designer is telling you that if you enjoy his game it's because you're too dumb to have figured out how to solve it.  Dominion and Chess and Twilight Struggle are similarly "solved", but unlike AFAoS, they are fun because any theoretical "solution" to those games is far too complex for a human to process.  Whereas the AFAoS algorithm is basically summed up in the title of the famous BGG thread that started it all: Can France Beat Britain's "Settle Halifax, Besiege Louisbourg, Besiege Quebec" Strategy?

His plan is to "keep changing the rules", which is the "only way" to fix 2-player wargames.  He analogizes it to Dominion, where you keep playing with new sets.
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DStu

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Re: A few acres of snow ?
« Reply #7 on: January 31, 2012, 08:34:18 am »
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Dominion and Chess and Twilight Struggle are similarly "solved", but unlike AFAoS, they are fun because any theoretical "solution" to those games is far too complex for a human to process.

I hope he doesn't do his banking on the internet, as all the security basically relies on broken crypto...
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Davio

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Re: A few acres of snow ?
« Reply #8 on: January 31, 2012, 08:34:36 am »
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I spend quite some time on the Geek as well and I found it very interesting to read through those topics.

Nothing like a good old flame war on the internet, almost as good as an Agatha Christie novel. :)


It's just too bad that it turned out this way. There are no winners here, only losers. I don't know what the author's reasons were for his absence, but I'm glad Donald doesn't let us in the dark. There are some rule problems every now and then, but what do you expect with > 150 cards??

I like how in the community we all go from: "It's broken!" to "It's worthless!" to somewhere in between.
And even if we don't like some of the cards, we can always choose to play without them and choose a different subset.
For all I care he could invent a card called "Golden Snitch" which costs 50$, but immediately wins you the game. If I don't like it, I can leave it out.

Besides, Dominion is mostly symmetric. Sure, attack cards favor the first player because of the shuffle timings and Smugglers favors second, but we all get even chances to go first or second. In fact, the previous losers are helped, because they can start the next game as first player.

I understand it's really really hard to create an asymmetric game and the problem with a board game is that it's set in stone. The cards are already printed. With a computer game, a company can release a patch to fix those issues. If we look at Diablo II, this game was originally released in 2000, but kept receiving patches until 2009!
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Davio

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Re: A few acres of snow ?
« Reply #9 on: January 31, 2012, 08:49:05 am »
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Sorry for double post, but I'm not that great with the cutting and pasting... :)

[..]

His plan is to "keep changing the rules", which is the "only way" to fix 2-player wargames.  He analogizes it to Dominion, where you keep playing with new sets.
That's a really poor argument, but I think he's being irrational because he's under fire at the moment. He sure must've been proud of his game when it first came out and rightly so. Apparently, it was a pretty good game. But now the cat's out of the bag and his pride must have suffered a big dent.

This is not the way to fix it, though. Dominion doesn't have new sets released because its broken, it gets new sets because people like it and want to buy more of it so they can put together even more different sets.

And yes, every game can be "broken" if the computer is fast enough to calculate every single possible game state from start to finish.
What makes games fun however, is the human element.
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DStu

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Re: A few acres of snow ?
« Reply #10 on: January 31, 2012, 08:52:36 am »
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And yes, every game can be "broken" if the computer is fast enough to calculate every single possible game state from start to finish.
What makes games fun however, is the human element.

And of course the games mentioned are not even being solved by a computer. In Chess you may (after years of research in this direction) have computers that beat humans, but they don't play the optimal strategy.
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theory

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Re: A few acres of snow ?
« Reply #11 on: January 31, 2012, 08:55:03 am »
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Sorry for double post, but I'm not that great with the cutting and pasting... :)

[..]

His plan is to "keep changing the rules", which is the "only way" to fix 2-player wargames.  He analogizes it to Dominion, where you keep playing with new sets.
That's a really poor argument, but I think he's being irrational because he's under fire at the moment. He sure must've been proud of his game when it first came out and rightly so. Apparently, it was a pretty good game. But now the cat's out of the bag and his pride must have suffered a big dent.

This is not the way to fix it, though. Dominion doesn't have new sets released because its broken, it gets new sets because people like it and want to buy more of it so they can put together even more different sets.
To clarify, I think what he meant was, each time you play Dominion, you have a new set for which to figure out the "best" combo.

This of course means he's implicitly admitting that when you buy A Few Acres of Snow, what you're really buying is the equivalent of one Dominion Kingdom set.
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DG

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Re: A few acres of snow ?
« Reply #12 on: January 31, 2012, 09:00:25 am »
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I've played a few acres of snow a few times and it has very good game mechanics and is interesting to play. I suspect it would take a large number of games for a killer strategy to be found by new players who didn't read internet message boards. I've played a number of Dominion clones and many of them seem comparatively facile. They would be equally broken except their randomness prevents you from executing the known power strategies.
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Deadlock39

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Re: A few acres of snow ?
« Reply #13 on: January 31, 2012, 10:12:46 am »
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If we look at Diablo II, this game was originally released in 2000, but kept receiving patches until 2009!

I'm totally off topic here, but I'm a huge Diablo II fan, and felt the need to mention it just got a new patch at the end of last year in 2011.

Davio

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Re: A few acres of snow ?
« Reply #14 on: January 31, 2012, 12:05:21 pm »
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If we look at Diablo II, this game was originally released in 2000, but kept receiving patches until 2009!

I'm totally off topic here, but I'm a huge Diablo II fan, and felt the need to mention it just got a new patch at the end of last year in 2011.
Hehe, I'm a DII fan as well, but a quick Google search led to a Dutch page listing 1.13 and I thought that was the last one.
Forgot they do small letter increments as well, making 1.13d in actuality the last one.

Has been a couple of years since I played though.
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GendoIkari

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Re: A few acres of snow ?
« Reply #15 on: February 02, 2012, 01:05:24 pm »
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The AFAoS BoardGameGeek forums are amazing to read, even though I've never played the game.  Warning: if you are Captain_Frisk or someone else who doesn't want to hear this whole story (which may ruin your AFAoS experience), don't read below:

===

Timeline:

* AFAoS is made
* Soon after, someone discovers that the British has an unstoppably strong strategy.  From what I understand, it is basically the realization that trashing is good for your deck in this game.  How no one thought of playtesting a deck-thinning strategy in a deck-building game I cannot understand. 
* Lots of flamewars, with tons of Martin Wallace zealots insisting to the end that there is no way the game could be imbalanced
* out4blood goes 64-0 online playing nothing but the strategy.  People continue to defend Martin Wallace.
* After months of silence, in a rather snarky post, Martin Wallace releases a "fix" that he claims is just a "variant scenario" for the game, while denying that there is anything wrong.
* The fix does not help.  British continues to be unstoppably strong. 
* Martin Wallace admits the game is flawed and believes there is no way to remedy the balance issue except by introducing more "variant scenarios" every now and then, which is equivalent to P1 always wins in Dominion, but let's just keep releasing new sets of 10 cards so that P1 always ends up winning a little differently. 
* Martin Wallace also claims every single 2-player wargame ever made is just as broken as his.  Which is hugely insulting, speaking as someone who writes a Twilight Struggle blog.
* Flamewars continue forever.  out4blood is now 105-0 as British.

I ended up losing a lot of respect for this guy after reading through all this.  He released a fundamentally broken game without playtesting the most basic strategic principle of deckbuilding games.  He was mute for months while the debate raged and refused to engage the community on the issue.  Eventually, while passive-aggressively criticizing his customers that complained about this issue, he releases a fix that doesn't solve anything.  And now he's given up on the game, while claiming that every single two-player wargame ever made is similarly broken.

How is this different than Dominion? Did you know that apparently you can win every time if you just do nothing but buy money!?!  ;D
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