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Another thread I'm mirroring from the "All That is SPI" Discussion Thread. While we love a good many Avalon Hill games, there were some that we thought were going to be the bees knees when we bought them at the store or anxiously and excitedly unboxed them when they arrived via UPS mail order...only to get them on the table and find out they just didn't live up to expectations. Given the differences in publishing philosophy between SPI and AH, there were far fewer games that are in this category for the latter than there are for the former.
What games did you expect to love but couldn't/didn't?
I know this game has its fans. Being a retired Marine, you'd think I'd be all over this title. It's an okay game--particularly when using the Advanced Game rules. So I like it. Sort of. But I thought I'd love it--and didn't. Sigh. That said, there's not many Guadalcanal games out there that do justice to the battle and remain fun to play. So this old AH title is in good company...
Back in the day, this was all the rage. It definitely was a turning point in game design at the time. I hunted for an OOP copy when I was a teenager as I was fascinated with World War I. Finally got the game and was entranced--played it and played it and played it. Realized it had flaws, got some variant rules and such, played it some more. And then just realized that the amount of work to play the game well just wasn't worth the effort/end result. So it took a long while for the shine to wear off...sort of like your first high school girlfriend. You are enchanted at first and then you outgrow her. I still have my copy of this game and won't part with it out of nostalgia--it was a sweet crush while it lasted--but love just never took hold.
Well if you are fascinated by WW I, you must checkout Paths of Glory, which integrates card-driven mechanics into the area-system, and it is the true successor of two brilliant AH design concepts( Hannibal and Turning Point: Stalingrad/ Breakout: Normandy).
While Hannibal suffered from a too big amount of luck involved (for a game of such length), by the simple fact, that both players draw their cards from the same deck ( if I draw all the good and high-value cards, you won't! ), PoG has a deck for each player and is so balanced that I would call it 'Chess with cards and dice rolls'. This means, no matter how bad the dice rolls or card draws, a beginner will never beat an expert in this game.
Each card can be used in one of 4 ways: 1. As the event( then it will be removed from your deck). This could be new units as reinforcements, the entrance of a neutral country into WW I, or other historical events of the Great War 2. To activate as many areas as it's operation value 3. Getting an amount of replacement points to rebuild armies and corps at turn end 4. To 'strategically redeploy' units( let them move by train or ship). It became my favourite game for 10 years, and probably still is.
My favorite part of the game was the AH tagline: Was Lee a Genius or was Hooker a Boob?
Of all the games that AH picked up from SPI, this was one of two that disappointed. Now, PANZERARMEE AFRIKA was all the rage when it was published in the pages of Strategy and Tactics for a number of its innovations. But the command and control rules were just atrocious and gameplay let to some strange styles for the 1941-42 scenario in the endgame (particularly for the Axis player). But AH gave the game a nice physical treatment...but did nothing to "fix up" the few outdated/wacky parts of the game. Sigh. Yeah, I bought it, but when I read the rules and saw no significant changes, that was that...a fun game, a good game, but not one I could love....
One of the best physical packages of it's era, an honor shared with RICHTHOFEN'S WAR and PANZERBLITZ. But this game just could not deliver. Much has been written about it; suffice it to say, the combat values on the pieces combined with the CRT just robs this title of so much, even when you play with the variant OOBs for the Allies. Joe Beard in his Map and Counter blog piece on the game spells it all out better than I ever could. Sigh. I used the game for years to lure new players into wargaming--and I always played the historical scenario, taking the Allies. It always worked!
Still have it.
I know there are people who are absolutely crazy about this game. But for me, it just never lived up to its promise. There's a lot to like about it, particularly when playing the campaign--ooh, when will the ME262 jets show up? But the abstractions just killed it for me (all Allied fighters let loose their drop tanks at once, etc.). So while there's a lot to like about it (I always thought the round counters were cool on that map), I couldn't suspend disbelief enough when playing it. Good game, but not one I could love. Sigh.