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"Do Points Systems Work?" Topic


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kyotebluer than blue Supporting Member of TMP08 Mar 2012 10:23 p.m. PST

There is that, John the OFM…

Thefrpat09 Mar 2012 12:43 a.m. PST

My thoughts – Points systems generally work for games which are designed for them. Do I play them? – Yes, and enjoy many of those I have played. I have also hated some games that were designed with points in mind.

I have also played and enjoyed games which were not designed for use with points – and by the same token, totally failed to enjoy others.

And imposing points onto a game that was manifestly never designed for them – urgh! Years ago, I played with a group that insisted on adding a points system to Empire III. It was horrible.

Have I played FoW? – Yes. Did I enjoy the game? Yes.

Have I played IABSM? No, not as yet – but hope to get it & play later in the year – I have too many projects lined up at the moment to be more precise in my timeline. Some of those projects are Lard in origin, others not.

I found Rich's comments on the Lardie Blog interesting, and I am hoping to look further into some of the comments posted both here and on Lard Island. John OFM above has a point there as do many others.

I've just got in from a hairy day – nay, week! – at work. I'm ramblling, so I'll sign off

X

Patrick R09 Mar 2012 4:09 a.m. PST

They provide a useful guideline, but you should keep an eye on the various troop types to make sure you don't put a Tiger platoon against troops without any AT capability.

Jeremy Wright Inactive Member09 Mar 2012 9:31 a.m. PST

Points systems do work, as long as some thought and testing was given to them. I see a lot of complaining that they don't take into account things like cover and force composition. That isn't the point though. They eliminate one variable. Points say that, all other things being equal, this unit worth so much relative to that unit, that's all. It is up to the player to make the most of his/her selctions and the terrain on the board.

Points let players write balanced scenarios with one more tool at their disposal. They let you play pick-up games easily. They are almost required for tournament play. I can't see any reason not to have them. You are just removing one tool from the tool box. It is like saying someone shouldn't need a ruler because you are good at estimating distances. If you dislike points and enjoy writing scenarios, just ignore them as an "optional rule" you don't use. But not everyone is good at writing scenarios. Some people only enjoy the competitive play of tournaments. Some people can only game with strangers at their local store once a month. Some people just really enjoy writing army lists. Points don't prevent a purely "scenario" player from playing scenarios, but all of the other kinds of players out there would have a much harder time without them.

just visiting Inactive Member09 Mar 2012 10:06 a.m. PST

I'm not going to read through all of that.

Points systems work if you are playing a tournament game. They are redundant if you are playing with friends. A much better method to is to randomize the units and army sizes. Better yet is to just design each game/scenario as you go….

Major Bumsore09 Mar 2012 10:32 a.m. PST

Points say that, all other things being equal, this unit worth so much relative to that unit, that's all.

The only snag is that that is exactly what they DON'T do as described in the Too Fat Lardies blog post lienked to by the OP.

Points let players write balanced scenarios

No, they don't. See the Too Fat Lardies blog post.

They let you play pick-up games easily.

Should I ever need to, I can set up a "pick up" game quite easily without points.

But not everyone is good at writing scenarios.

It really isn't as difficult as apparently many people think.

Some people can only game with strangers at their local store once a month.

I don't even get to game that often, but it isn't difficult to set up a game when I need to without using points.

Jeremy Wright Inactive Member09 Mar 2012 10:32 a.m. PST

EWell, those are better ways for you, but not for everyone. My friends are very competitive. I don't mean that anyone cries or gets mad if they lose. Quite the contrary. We will let a person go back to a phase they forgot, don't sweat a quarter inch on a charge, and will even bend the rules in certain circumstances to our own detriment if it makes a more realistic of exciting game. We do this because no one wants to win on a technicality. That's not a real win.

But we are extremely competitive. We want to know that, all things being equal, this player was a better general today. Points help us accomplish that, even when designing scenarios. My friends would find a completely random set up pointless. How could they know who played better?

Not everyone is like that, and I have no problem with other people playing any way which brings them enjoyment. I won't say one way is superior to another. But points help those who need them and do nothhing to hurt those who don't. A system with no points is lacking for many players out there.

Major Bumsore09 Mar 2012 10:36 a.m. PST

We want to know that, all things being equal,

And that, my friend, is impossible to know, with or without points. It is the nature of things in a typical wargame that all things are not equal unless you play with identical opposing forces on a terrain that is mirrored down the centre line.

My friends would find a completely random set up pointless. How could they know who played better?

Simple. Play the game the first time. Then swap sides and play the game again. Who was the better general?

Jeremy Wright Inactive Member09 Mar 2012 10:36 a.m. PST

Sorry, that rsponse was to Just Visiting, but you typed faster. :D

The same applies to your post though. I am glad you can enjoy senarios without points and can create them easily. Not everyone can though, or they aren'tsatisfied with the kind of game it produces.

I like Two Fat Lardies and a lotof their thouhts on gaming. I just don't always agree with them.

The real point is that a points system helps some people and hurts no one, so why oppose them?

Jeremy Wright Inactive Member09 Mar 2012 10:46 a.m. PST

Everyone enjoys different aspects of the hobby. Some people like collecting both forces for their club and writing detailed scenarios. Some people like tweaking army lists endlessly. I had some friends who painstakenly converted every model they owned and gave them all intens eback stories. I could never enjoy a game with them though because they would get distracted halfway through to go add a bolt pistol on their model that it just picked up, or contemplate the impact of recent events onthe model's personallity. Totally not for me, but I respect that that was how they enjoyed gaming.

Points help list writers, tournament gamers, competitive friends, less imaginitive scenario writers, and those with little time on their hands. They hurt no one.

Major Bumsore09 Mar 2012 10:46 a.m. PST

Not everyone can though, or they aren't satisfied with the kind of game it produces.

Like I said, it really ain't difficult. I often just throw a few bits of terrain on the table and start laying out troops. When you feel the game looks right, start playing. Real life genrals could not pick and choose their troops, they ahd to make do with what they had. Much more fun!

If you really can't cope with inventing scenarios then there are a wealth of battles in history to use as inspiration.

The real point is that a points system helps some people and hurts no one, so why oppose them?

While I can see that there are some gamers who cannot seem to manage without points, personally, I won't use them because they are so contrived, add nothing to the game (in fact IMHO take something away) and are just plain unrealistic (see my comments above).

Major Bumsore09 Mar 2012 10:51 a.m. PST

They hurt no one.

I'm really not sure what you are getting at here. I don't think anybody said that points systems hurt anyone?

AFAIAC, you can have points if you want them. IMHO, they are but a crutch for the weak and lead to a false sense of "balance" where in reality none exists.

Jeremy Wright Inactive Member09 Mar 2012 10:56 a.m. PST

My friends would never be satisfied with "that looks good" kind of scenario, but that's just the way they are. In the same way that you aren't satisfied with the contrivance of points.

I completely understand why you don't like them. I am one member of my group that would be fine with or without them. But that's how you enjoy the game, and you can easily ignore them. It is much more difficult for someone who likes points to make them up for a game that doesn't include them

Jeremy Wright Inactive Member09 Mar 2012 11:01 a.m. PST

Sorry, I don' t know how to quote on my tablet.

I think it is unfair to call someone with a different playstyle weak. There are scores of players out there just like I describe who aren't weak in any way. One could counter with the argument that people who refuse points are scared of real competition, or that rules writers who don't include them are lazy. I don't think either of those characterizations are true either. It's just different ways to enjoy the hobby. Some people like playing solo rpg video games. Others are hardcore pvp online gamers. Neither is wrong.

Jeremy Wright Inactive Member09 Mar 2012 11:06 a.m. PST

And I am not saying that points make things suddenly fair either. Players still need to consider the arrangement of terrain, the objectives of each force, and a number of other factors. But points help partially remove one variable. You don't have to sit and consider the relative strength of unit A versus unit S each time you set up a scenario. Points aren't a cure-all, just an aid.

Whirlwind Supporting Member of TMP09 Mar 2012 11:11 a.m. PST

Do points systems make games any fairer? Or are they a pre-game way of gaining an advantage?

Regards

Jeremy Wright Inactive Member09 Mar 2012 11:17 a.m. PST

I think points can help make a game more fair. Of course they can be abused too. Just as line of sight, charge distances, corner clipping, a vague rules can be abused. A powergamer is going to powergame. And some people enjoy that competition.

Major Bumsore09 Mar 2012 11:25 a.m. PST

It is much more difficult for someone who likes points to make them up for a game that doesn't include them

And you think it's any easier for the game designer to invent a points system? There are a number of games designers who consider there are more important things in life than providing points systems.

Please don't misunderstand me. I have played points based games. However the overwhelming feeling I experienced from such games is that they are in fact BORING.

You don't have to sit and consider the relative strength of unit A versus unit S each time you set up a scenario.

Again, EXACTLY the point made by the Too Fat Lardies blog post. The relative strength of unit A versus unit S may be x, but versus unit T might be y. How do you reconcile the two different points values?

Do points systems make games any fairer?

Obviously not.

Or are they a pre-game way of gaining an advantage?

They may offer a perceived advantage. Whether that is a real advantage remains to be seen.

Major Bumsore09 Mar 2012 11:26 a.m. PST

corner clipping

Corner clipping? What on earth is corner clipping?

A powergamer is going to powergame.

I don't play with powergamers.

Jeremy Wright Inactive Member09 Mar 2012 11:43 a.m. PST

Corner clipping is a situation common to cames with block unit where a player tries to gain an advantage by engaging an enemy unti with minimal contact along the corner. But that's beside the point.

I' m sure it is a lot of work for a designer to create a points system, and they can choose not to. That choice may just bring with it a loss of customers. I've heard of many people give up on a rules set because of it, or beg their favorite rules to include one. If the designer is fine with that, I don't mind.

I'm sure you don't play with powergamers, but they do exist. Privateer Press built an empire on them, and Games Workshop before them. Many people enjoy making those uber lists and putting them up against like minded players. That is not to say you can't enjoy Warmachine or Warhammer without powergaming. You can certainly play the rules in scenarios with your friends.

I like Two Fat Lardies and their games. But they probably won't be holding worldwide tourneys or approach the level of sales that Gw and PP reach. They are fine with that and so am I. No points system is perfect. Certainly if you take all tanks and I have no anti-armour, it won't be a very fair fight no matter how equal the points. But they are a good way to start.

I am not condeming any style of play or enjoyment of the hobby. All are equally valid. Some people like randomness in the c and c, and fog of war, and unequal forces because it feels more like the challenges a real general faces. Others want complete control because they don't want a simulation, they want a competition. Each to their own. No one is wrong.

Whirlwind Supporting Member of TMP09 Mar 2012 11:44 a.m. PST

Of course they (points values) can be abused too.

How can a points system be abused? I mean you pick an army to fit the points total and abide by any extra rules the army list writer puts in surely? I don't understand how anybody could abuse it?

Regards

Major Bumsore09 Mar 2012 12:14 p.m. PST

I' m sure it is a lot of work for a designer to create a points system, and they can choose not to. That choice may just bring with it a loss of customers.

Stargrunt II never had a points system. It sold out some years ago. So, no, I don't think GZG suffered a loss of customers because of a lack of a points system.

I'm sure you don't play with powergamers, but they do exist.

Their hobby is clearly not mine!

Certainly if you take all tanks and I have no anti-armour, it won't be a very fair fight no matter how equal the points.

It certainly won't be fair, but whoever claimed war was ever fair? Actually, that sounds like it could be a really interesting game. How does the guy counter the tanks? When in need, improvise! The Soviets seemed to be particularly effective with Molotov cocktails and dog-bombs!

But they are a good way to start.

I really cannot agree with that, but like you, I do not condemn any style of play or enjoyment of the hobby. I just think the points fans are misguided.

Thomas Whitten09 Mar 2012 12:15 p.m. PST

That's it. So when Thomas says "They approximate the relative strengths amongst troops/units and they help speed the process of getting a game on." the truth is that they DO NOT approximate anything at all unless we know who they are up against, and again we could add to the mix what terrain they are operating in, and 100 other factors, both quantifiable and unquantifiable. At which point a system which I feel that I have already proved does not work anyway, becomes too complicated to even pretend to use it.

If find this absolute "the truth is that they DO NOT approximate anything" as untrue.

Flames of War, Warhammer 40k, and Superfigs all seem to work quite well with their respective point systems. As a matter of fact, the point systems in each of them approximate the relative strengths of the figures/units within the respective game system very well. They are not perfect, but all of them provide a great game. And the best thing is, one can play them as a quick points matchup or a scenario game.

Major Bumsore09 Mar 2012 12:22 p.m. PST

I find this absolute "the truth is that they DO NOT approximate anything" as untrue.

So if the statement is untrue, then the statement "the truth is that they DO approximate something" must be true. So what do they approximate?

As has already been shown the relative strength of a unit might be x against one opposing unit type but y against something else, so points cannot approximate to that, or at least I've never seen a points system that has multiple values depending on who the opponent is.

Phil Dutre09 Mar 2012 12:47 p.m. PST

Just use a point system 1 figure = 1 point, 1 cav figure = 2 points; weird weapon = 5 points. Featherstonian approach. That should do it, and should create an acceptable balanced battle if you feel the need to.

Point systems and army lists (it's really the combination that's triggering the worst behaviour in some type of gamers) always reminds of the pick-up football (soccer) games we played as a kid on a nearby grassy patch the size of an irregular 10-sided polygon. We had no firm lines, goalposts were just two jackets. There was an 'accepted' grey zone, and everyone knew by instinct whether the ball was out, or too high for a goal.
Replace that with real lines and real goals, and suddenly you get a lot of discussion, making the game less fun, since it has lost its freewheeling improvisational spirit.

Although I understand some gamers might like point systems/army lists, they are not for me. I like the level of creativity that pointless systems induce in the players.
I also tend not to pick up rulesets that have them, because they are a testimony of the philosophy of the rules designer.

EagleFarm Inactive Member09 Mar 2012 1:43 p.m. PST

"I even created a game with an army-building system that didn't use points (and didn't require any)… and people immediately began to backwards-engineer it to calculate points values for all the units. Even though they didn't need to."

Sam's example on Lasalle is the reason I like points. Once you have played a bunch of games using his Army Builder with the French 1812 army always with a core 6 veteran battalions, you do start to think about playing with a core instead having say conscripts, or elites, or a mix of conscripts, veterans and elites.

But here Sam offered no guidance on how to do that. You are on your own.

Experienced players can probably figure this out themselves. But Sam's army builder actually had this embedded into (even if he did not do it explicitly) – it was just hidden from the player.

Having a points system rather than a fixed army list or having to make your own scenario just makes life a bit easier.

And for me I want rule writers to help make my life easier. Adding points to help me design games does that.

Major Bumsore09 Mar 2012 1:51 p.m. PST

Adding points to help me design games does that.

You know, I think that's the problem. Points help you to design games, but they don't help you to design interesting and challenging games.

Jeremy Wright Inactive Member09 Mar 2012 2:39 p.m. PST

Whether or not a game is interresting and challenging is a matter of opinion. I can use points to create a very interresting scenario, and it is more challenging to mebecause I feel both sides are more fairly balanced.

Yes, points do not take into account that unit A is good against unit B, but not unit C. That isn't the goal. When taken as a whole force, well designed points systems show that your armies are equally matched. An army list isn't a single entry, but a collection of entries. If the points are well thought out, that collection should stand a fair chance against other armies. If you fail to take a well rounded force, that is your fault, not the points system. Even then, you admit that a game of infantry versus tanks can be fun.

So let's say unit A is very well suited to close combat with soft targets, but poor against tanks. That does not mean you need seperate points values versus the two opposing targets. You have more than unit A available to you. Perhaps get some tank-busting unit Bs. When you view the whole picture of army versus army, points make much more sense. Then a points system need only determine the relative value of a unit in context of its force, and against a standard enemy force. It encourages you to take a balanced force so that you are capable of engaging different enemyunits.

You are still petfectly able to agree on a scenario where one side has all tanks and the other only infantry. Just throw the points out, or agree on a suitable handicap or special rules. But in your standard game, you will know your forces have the capacity to be balanced if both players take a well rounded force. If they don't, they take that chance.

Major Bumsore09 Mar 2012 3:07 p.m. PST

You have more than unit A available to you. Perhaps get some tank-busting unit Bs.

Where from? I asked the higher-highers but they said the tank busters were busy supporting other units! Looks like I'm stuck with A …

When you view the whole picture of army versus army, points make much more sense. Then a points system need only determine the relative value of a unit in context of its force, and against a standard enemy force. It encourages you to take a balanced force so that you are capable of engaging different enemy units.

So how do you go about calculating such a relative value?

But in your standard game, you will know your forces have the capacity to be balanced if both players take a well rounded force.

And if both sides in a "standard game" take a "well rounded force" you can pretty much guarantee that the resulting game will be BORING. I don't want to play "standard games". I want to play INTERESTING scenarios. How long can these guys hold out against overwhelming odds or even slightly superior odds?

You won't get games like Thermopylae, Isandhlwana, Camerone and so on ( link ) from a "standard game" using "well rounded forces". Historically, a general who had a "well rounded force" would consider himself blessed by the Gods!

You fight with what you've got. No chance to min-max or pick and choose ("no, I won't take the Guard today, I want a fair fight"). Victory goes to him who gets there "fustest with the mostest". And it is all great FUN!

basileus66 Supporting Member of TMP09 Mar 2012 3:45 p.m. PST

Jeremy, what Margard is saying is that only those who agree with him are really having fun in their games. Everybody else is being mistified by evil mind forces that are tampering their brainwaves to make them believe they are having fun with their points-based games! It's a conspiracy, I tell you! A conspiracy! (where did I put my tinfoil hat again?)

By the way: I prefer scenarios to points, most of the time.

Jeremy Wright Inactive Member09 Mar 2012 3:45 p.m. PST

You can calculate the relative value something like this:

Let us assume that a game of Super Space Soldiers will generally have armies with 2 tanks, 4 units of infantry, and a heavy weapon squad. We know that because we designed the rules that way. Know we know that an army full of anti-armor weapons will be pretty useless most of the time. They have 2 targets worth their while. We also know, because we wrote the rules, what their odds are of defeating a tank each turn. Similarly we know that machine guns will be pretty useful against all that infantry, but won't harm the tanks.

40k worked this way. With force organization restrictions, you knew the maximum number of tanks an opponent would have, and a minimum number of infantry squads (before they screwed up with all the special organization charts meant to sell whole armies of tanks and motorcycles).

This way, you know what a "typical" army will have and can evaluate the usefulness of a model in context. Of course, someone is free to make an odd army full of goblins or Goofy Warp Guns, but thise armies have their drawbacks. They are harder to use and can face impossible odds against certain opponents. But, hey, that's the very definition of a fun game right?

I played a tournament years ago, second edition 40k. I had a very well balanced Guard army to take on all comers. Some other players maxed
out characters, or tooknothing but bikes and buggies. Some did very well with these unique lists, but crashed against certain opponents. I myself lost my entire army to a Chaos force in two rounds, while I also beat two armies that were undefeated for weeks. The tables and our force choices made the scenarios for us. Having my entire army held up within the fortress on my edge, facing off against an undefeated horde of Tyranids, was something right out of a movie. We all had FUN.

We also could never have done it without points. We had jobs and
school. We didn'thave time to construct scenarios each time. We had to
make a list to use that didn't change from battle. We had to know we could drop in after work and jump right into a game.

Jeremy Wright Inactive Member09 Mar 2012 3:47 p.m. PST

Basileus: tinfoil hats aren't allowed in this scenario. :)

Major Bumsore09 Mar 2012 3:51 p.m. PST

Jeremy, what Margard is saying is that only those who agree with him are really having fun in their games.

No, I didn't. I said that to me equal points games using well rounded forces were boring. Some might find them fun. I don't. Simple as that. if you think you can have a fun time playing an equal points pick-up game who am I to say you're wrong?

Gennorm09 Mar 2012 3:56 p.m. PST

They have a place – tournament games would be difficult without them – but I've played many unbalanced and uneven games with armies of equal points.

Major Bumsore09 Mar 2012 4:02 p.m. PST

Let us assume that a game of Super Space Soldiers will generally have armies with

OK, now let's see you do the same for a historical poriod.

With force organization restrictions, you knew the maximum number of tanks an opponent would have,

I bet the Germans wished the Russians had some "force organisation restrictions" at the Battle of Kursk!

But, hey, that's the very definition of a fun game right?

Oh, absolutely!

We also could never have done it without points. We had jobs and school. We didn'thave time to construct scenarios each time.

Again, you miss the point. I have demonstrated that a scenario can be put together in minutes. A good way is to start with armies of a certain size and composition and a table layout, then each player "bids down" by removing one or more units until both sides will not go further. If a player refuses to bid down at the start, his opponent gets an extra unit. The smaller army gets to defend. So the "no time" argument just doesn't add up.

It is a well known military axiom that you need a minimum of 3:1 odds if you are attacking a defended position. Now THAT's what I call a balanced game!

Major Bumsore09 Mar 2012 4:04 p.m. PST

tournament games would be difficult without them

Nope. Run a tournament where each game is played twice with the players swapping sides. The winner is the player that did better with the smaller force. And the plus side is that you get to play TWICE as many games!

Jeremy Wright Inactive Member09 Mar 2012 4:33 p.m. PST

But how do you start with armies of a certain size and composition without some way to guage it? Everyone brings the same organization? Points?! Even if you aren't using points, you are placing a value on units. 3:1 odds, this tank takes this to beat it, etc. You are using points in your head.

Maybe people don't want to play both sides of a battle. Many players actually like having their own armies, designed by them, painted by them. And they might not be too keen on letting the guy accross the table use them for the second game to see who was better. Two games a night isn't even an option for a lot of people. A lot of gamers don't even care if a battle is realistic. They want a fun game and a fair chance of winning.

I've said all there is to say on the subject. I know nothing will change your mind and I am not out to try. I understand that you don't like points driven games and I havw no problem with that. But why oppose the inclusion of points? No one will make you use them, but they will be very useful to other players. I personally don't think that makes those people weak or lacking in any facilities. Just as I don't think you are lacking for not seeing the value of points as a tool for the gamer.

Points aren't just some arbitrary idea. As I've said, even a scenario designer assigns mental value to troops. They might not think of it that way, but they do. These super French guard are worth twice a normal soldier. Holding that hill makes the defenders worth three attackers. Without a mega-laser-of-doom, your going to need four times the troops to crack this bunker. Having points just makes this step easier and saves more time for gaming.

Personal logo John the OFM Supporting Member of TMP09 Mar 2012 5:50 p.m. PST

I have a truly splendid idea.
All of you who like points systems in a game, play those games.
All of you who hate points systems in a game, don't play those games.

Anyone who thinks you can change the minds of those who do not play the way you like… You are an idiot.

I am taking bets on when the NEXT identical and pointless thread on this topic will be started.

Personal logo John the OFM Supporting Member of TMP09 Mar 2012 6:53 p.m. PST

I would like to know who these GMs are who think that players actually like playing unequal scenarios, on the losing side. Those GMs who like setting up a game in which one player has to survive for 12 turns instead of perishing on Turn 6, "like they did in the historical battle".

YOU may be having a good time, and the player who has been guaranteed to win may be having a good time. I am not so sure about the guy who is guaranteed to die. He may not be having such a good time.

I have played in far too many convention games where the GM set me or my side up doomed to fail. He beemed that that was what happend "in the REAL battle". He was convinced that he was teaching us a valuable historical lesson, but in reality he was just being a dick.

Some other name09 Mar 2012 7:54 p.m. PST

I think the problem is that too many people think everyone else are IDIOTS. It's that kind of thinking which stifles imagination.

I prefer to think people who favor points based or scenario based games might actually provide insight into their beliefs and thus may positively influence others opinions.

nickinsomerset10 Mar 2012 1:04 a.m. PST

Chess has equal pointed armies.

Real life is not about having equally pointed armies.

A challenge might be over a series of games to see who lasts the longest in a one sided/rear guard type scenario.

For me the best option is a campaign using historical orbats and TO&E, not a point in sight.

I play pointed games on club nights and occasionally a large one at home, (About once a week) unless of course we refight Nordlingden of something, so not a point in site.

Neither system is better than the other for what is to be achieved – a game.

And remember jofm he probably though you were a bell end too!

Tally Ho!

Last Hussar10 Mar 2012 4:56 a.m. PST

Are points systems realistic?

Obviously.

It's called a defence budget.

Major Bumsore10 Mar 2012 6:30 a.m. PST

Are points systems realistic?

Obviously.

It's called a defence budget.

I've always thought that if you are going to use points systems at all then they should be based on the financial cost of fielding a unit rather than some poorly conceived rating as to "effectiveness".

Mind you, that won't necessarily lead to balanced games.

Yesthatphil10 Mar 2012 6:36 a.m. PST

I very much enjoyed taking the doomed role of Regulus in one of the games of Bagradas (1st Punic War, 255, aka Tunes) using Lost Battles (at Cavalier a couple of weeks back – see Ancients on the Move )

Sabin's battles are all historical scenarios constructed to a method explained in the Lost Battles book. He allocates a points value (FV) to all the troops in the army in order to assess how many command points you get to manage it (and so that, as it is destroyed, the command points you get drop pro rata).

The game assumes the bigger/better (higher FV) side will usually win the table top battle, but the points mechanism is recycled at the end of the game to see which of the players did best.

Of course, although enjoyment of the game is undiminished by ignoring the implications of the 'points' involved, Lost Battles has to be about the most genuine and legitimate 'scenario driven' system (certainly as regards the ancient world) – yet it also has a _points _system embedded in its structure.

I don't think Professor Sabin would ever argue that points systems are perfect – but the key role he gives them certainly suggests he thinks they have an important role in managing the game effects of 'force' in a balanced way.

Food for thought anyway.

Phil Steele

Cincinnatus Supporting Member of TMP10 Mar 2012 11:14 a.m. PST

This argument usually comes down to this –

People who like point systems find them to be helpful and useful but accept they will never be perfect and accept that other types of games may be better if well thought out.

People who dislike point systems not only say they see no use for them but they then have to tell YOU that don't need them for YOUR games. Period. End of discussion.

As I said in another thread – If a set of rules expects me to use common sense when it comes to situations not explicitly covered by the rules, why do they think I cannot use common sense when it comes to a point system?

Skarper10 Mar 2012 4:50 p.m. PST

If you want a balance game the only way to get there is to set up your scenario and play it through a few times in order to fine tune the victory conditions etc.

No points system will ever work and can get really stupid really fast…

It just adds a pre-game game in which pocket calculators and cunning tricks detract from the game to follow.

I hate points systems because they lend a false sense of scientific. If the rules say a certain unit is worth 23 points and another is worth 47points players assume a lot of scientific and numerical analysis went into it. When in fact it's more back of a fag packet stuff.

I only really enjoy scenarios that closely follow an historical engagement, so we know who had what and how it worked out.

I know many players like to play generic or even hypothetical scenarios and use points to get a quick fix to the balance problem. If they do then they have to understand the pitfalls or they'll end up disappointed.

Dan 05510 Mar 2012 5:55 p.m. PST

Well said Cincinnatus.

As to two other unamed individuals – do you really believe anyone reads your long winded diatribes?

Personal logo toofatlardies Sponsoring Member of TMP11 Mar 2012 3:00 a.m. PST

Cincinnatues

I don't think it's about 'like' or 'dislike', I just don't think they work, simple as that.

Oh, and perhaps you could show me where I said you couldn't use them for your games. I don't recall doing that. My post was made on our blog relating to a set of rules we publish. I did not make a public statement saying "Nobody can use points".

Cincinnatus Supporting Member of TMP11 Mar 2012 8:27 a.m. PST

It greatly depends on the definition of "work". If you mean will it ALONE provide a balanced game, no reasonable person would disagree with you. But we are not contending that at all. All we are saying is a point system provides a helpful guideline for people. A basis to develop a game or scenario on. That it can do very well. A good one combined with structured army list can do much more than just raw point totals too.

Answer me this:

Player A has a 2000 point army at his command.
Player B has a 1000 point army at his command.

Which player PROBABLY has an advantage? Which player probably needs some help either with terrain, the victory point determination, or maybe more forces?

Pretty obvious isn't it?

Even if you say there's no way to know if those two forces are balanced or not, you have to admit the point system ALONE would cause you to be concerned about the equality of the forces involved. Hey, guess what the point system "WORKED".

As to your second point – If you don't provide them for your rules, aren't you saying by your actions that we can't use them for TFL rules? Secondarily, by saying they don't work, you are implying that all systems and people who use them are not smart enough to realize they are being fooled.

Major Bumsore11 Mar 2012 9:23 a.m. PST

Even if you say there's no way to know if those two forces are balanced or not, you have to admit the point system ALONE would cause you to be concerned about the equality of the forces involved. Hey, guess what the point system "WORKED".

Unfortunately, most people don't seem to use points in that way. The tendency is to have opposing armies of equal points and therefore assume that because the points are equal, this means that each side has a reasonably equal probability of winning. Unfortunately it doesn't. Not only are such equal points games usually boring, thay also fail to take into account such things as terrain and victory criteria such as you have suggested.

If most people used points (and often the crudest points systems work just as well as anything more complicated) in the way you have described, I'd be quite happy. Sadly they do not. I can't change it, it's just the way the world is, but I just think it's a shame.

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