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Action Log

23 Feb 2013 9:35 p.m. PST
by Editor in Chief Bill

  • Crossposted to Dirtside board


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2,370 hits since 23 Feb 2013
©1994-2019 Bill Armintrout
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Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian23 Feb 2013 9:21 p.m. PST

I wrote a preliminary review of The Regiment: Rolling Thunder from Art of War Games, where my basic sense is that the scenario book is a serious effort, but with too many questions left for the reader to fill in.

Simultaneously, I have been asking questions on the Art of War Games page on Facebook, and posting clarifications back on TMP when I was able to get them.

Unfortunately, after a while, the designer stopped answering my questions!

At that point, I figured I had all the information I was going to get, and posted my review of the scenario book to Wargame Vault.

And then, I thought, oh, give the designer another chance, so I asked him one more question (about how the "sensors" work that you're supposed to destroy in scenario one – sort of an important bit that got left out…).

To my surprise, tonight I see the designer has answered my last question… sort of:

Read my reply to your so called review before you ask me anymore questions Bill. If you are going to review something at least make sure you know what you are talking about. If you ask me questions then you should maybe read my responses until you understand and if you don't understand then ask until you do. 2 stars really?

You can see my Wargame Vault review – and his response – here: link

Sadly, he's also removed most of my questions – and his answers – from the Art of War Games page on Facebook. This is a shame, because the info would have been useful to anyone trying to play the scenario book.

Some quotes and comments from his reply to my review:

The regiment player must use regiment equipment…

That's a surprise, I thought the vehicle designs were optional as long as you went with the indicated point totals. That means no engineering vehicles to take out the minefields, no counterbattery radar to take out the enemy artillery (2 batteries, total of 12 guns in the early scenarios!), no repair vehicle to keep from using up Logistics Points, no aircraft, no anti-aircraft… yow!

At no point have I ever said that ACAVs transport infantry.

From asking questions of you, it's clear to me that you have an idea of how you want The Regiment to be organized. It's just a shame you didn't include that information in the scenario book. As for ACAVs that don't transport infantry… sorry, I was thinking of vehicles such as the M1 Bradley.

Infantry in the Regiment use hoverbikes and count as dragoons (which are infantry forces that travel as cavalry but fight as infantry) under Dirtside II rules Cavalry rules can be found on pages 13 (under infantry forces), page 25 and 26 (under infantry movement and terrain effects) and page 53 under infantry points cost "cavalry cost an additional 50% of the basic element's points cost"…

Yes, but those are infantry riding animals. I don't think you mean for hoverbike-mounted infantry to move at the rate of men riding camels?

Regiment infantry are organized into 6-man squads mounted on bikes supported by a crew served heavy weapon mounted on a jeep. I though that this is fairly simple and self explanatory…

Except that it's not in the scenario book at all, I had to dig it out of you by asking questions… and then you give me an answer about putting a command element into a platoon of infantry, which makes me seriously wonder if you play Dirtside II. (The whole idea of Dirtside II is that communications have developed to the level where there's usually a single command element for the entire combat force!)

I would expect a reviewer of wargames scenarios to understand the difference between infantry, cavalry and dragoons.

And maybe I'm just wrong, but is it wrong to expect a scenario designer to provide rules when he introduces things which are not in the rules he's writing scenarios for?

Data cards are provided for the vehicles but it is up to you to find vehicles that fit your personnel visual aesthetics. Another simple google search of blower tank will take you to Hammer's Slammers sites complete with models (which are made by Old Crow models if you are interested though he is on hiatus and his store is currently non functional) I don't make models but if you had bothered to ask I could have pointed you in the right direction. Also someone who runs The Miniature Page should not have any trouble finding models for these vehicles since there are a plethora of manufactures out there to choose from.

Seems a little strange to come out with scenarios featuring models (Old Crow) which are currently unavailable… yes, some models are available from GZG… again, why not mention it in the scenario book? Why make things harder for the customer?

The reason to reduce the Regiments points is that in real life combat not all casualties are directly related to enemy fire and some vehicles must be combat losses due to maintenance or mechanical failure. During the Regiment's march into Republic territory the Regiment will lose vehicles and personnel to simple accidents or mechanical failures. Hence the slow reduction in points.

But the campaign system already does that, so reducing the points for each scenario just seems redundant, plus it fails to allow for a Regiment player who does unusually well (or bad).

The Campaign is designed to be played from scenario 1-12 without repeating any scenario but if you wanted to play scenarios more than once then who am I to say you can't…it is your game. Do what you want.

This is strange, because the campaign rules specifically invite players to replay any non-Unique scenario – and none of the scenarios are marked as Unique! Though when I asked you about this, you told me four of them were actually Unique. Now, you're claiming they all are???

Artillery spotters in scenario 1 are the Republic Sensors and count as a size 1 vehicle which is destroyed if it takes any damage.

Thank you for finally answering my question, but why is it like pulling teeth to get you to cough up info that should have been in the scenario book to begin with? You still didn't answer my questions about what they look like (if I play the scenario, I need a provide a model, right?), are they armed, and rather importantly, do they begin play hidden or in plain sight? And if they're vehicles… sheesh, I hope you don't mean the darn things are mobile!

Scenario maps are not included because a detailed description of the table and terrain are provided but I guess some people need pictures.

The "detailed description" for scenario one is "…our axis of advance will take us along the old coastal highway. The highway has been cut inside the DMZ but it will get us part of the way through." Doesn't tell me a lot. As a Regiment player with a GEV force, I want to know where the bad terrain is (i.e., woods!). And if there's a coastal highway… does that mean there's sea? Cool, GEVs love that! Do sensors go into the water? Do we have any channeling terrain, such as cliffs, gorges, mountains, or even hills? By the way, what kind of a planet is this, anyway?

This entire review makes me wonder if you actually played through the campaign with an opponent or simply read through it.

The campaign is impossible to play without further information from the designer.

Since you didn't know the rules for Dirtside and based on the numerous mistakes you made reading through the campaign scenarios (despite lengthy explanations from me and noted above) I give your review 1 out of 5 stars.

And you know what I think? I think you whip these scenario books out in a week or so – based on what you've said on your Facebook page – and that you don't playtest them (which is why there are so many holes), and you don't even seem that familiar with Dirtside II.

Based on this product, I doubt anyone can play through one of your scenario products without doing a lot of design work on their own to fill in the gaps.

Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian23 Feb 2013 9:29 p.m. PST

I forgot to mention… Art of War Games has Unfriended me on Facebook, so I have no way to ask questions any more.

Their Facebook page (without my material) is at https://www.facebook.com/ArtOfWarGames

Personal logo 28mm Fanatik Supporting Member of TMP23 Feb 2013 9:52 p.m. PST

I guess he wasn't too pleased with your review, Bill, but then he shouldn't expect you to be a yes-man.

John Leahy23 Feb 2013 10:22 p.m. PST

Bill, I had the same impression when I read the preview materials he has put out. I am a complete sucker for Scenario books like these. The price is dirt cheap so normally I'd be buying the whole series.

I took a hard look at the Ghost campaign stuff. There were some interesting ideas in them. However after reading the previews and seeing how quickly he kept putting out new ones made me arrive at two possibilities. Either he has been working on and playtesting these for years OR he is pumping them out without any playtesting at all. Based on some of the things I read, how quickly he releases them and their very low price I totally believe the latter is correct. I think he is using the Dirtside/Stargrunt label as a tool to help sell his product without having much experience with those rules. I could be wrong. However, based on your experience with him it appears to be unlikely.

YMMV,

John

captainquirk24 Feb 2013 4:03 a.m. PST

Seems like a lot of hostility there from the designer.

Some of the answers relate to things which are obvious IF you are really familiar with the Hammer's Slammers background, for example combat cars are ACAVs because they are based upon David Drake's experience with M113 ACAVs with the Blackhorse Cavalry in Vietnam.

However, Dirtside II needs a certain amount of tweaking to reflect the Slammers universe.

The Crucible is full of information that sets out the vehicles, the organisation, the terrain. That seems a reasonable expectation of any scenario book with pre-defiend battels and pre-defined forces.

From the above exchanges above, I'd say that this is an attempt to cash in on the Hammer's Slammers name and the Dirtside/Stargrunt systems without doing what is essential work that a buyer should be able to expect to be included.

Caesar24 Feb 2013 7:30 a.m. PST

The majority of his products get low reviews on WV and he seems to be something of a rip off artist. If you charge basically nothing to give people basically nothing you can still make some spare cash with no effort.

The review for his 100 Female names products are funny. Fake ethnic names and loads of repeats.

Caesar24 Feb 2013 7:45 a.m. PST

" The product claims 60 levels for the tower, but it is actually only 15, with 45 more exact duplicates of each level, with the only change being a decimal place in the level number (ie, level 15, level 15.1, level 15.2, and level 15.3 are all identical)."
" The maps themselves are rather obviously created by an online random dungeon generator. As such, they have no semblance of actual design, and the connections between levels do not line up at all."

Crankee Doodle24 Feb 2013 8:13 a.m. PST

I thought it was a bit odd that he was putting out his "Get Some!" wargame supplements every other week too.

captainquirk24 Feb 2013 8:42 a.m. PST

Doesn't sound as if you should hold your breath for a re-friending request!

Space Monkey24 Feb 2013 10:42 a.m. PST

Oh! This is the same fellow behind the "Get Some!" shovelware that kept clotting up the newsverts?
Sounds like he doesn't like being called out for making shoddy crap.
I almost impulse-bought the scenario when I saw it here, glad I didn't… but I would be in the market for GOOD Dirtside scenarios/campaigns.

captainquirk24 Feb 2013 11:49 a.m. PST

Yeah, same here. I was tempted by The Regiment. But it doesn't sound like it has anything in it that I can't do myself. And I'm not interested in buying something and still having to do everything myself anyway.

Valator24 Feb 2013 5:50 p.m. PST

What a lovely gentleman. He broke the Golden Rule he likes to put in his product descriptions:

"GOLDEN RULE: When in doubt about a rule roll a d6 4+ you are right otherwise your opponent is right. Bottom Line, use some common sense when dealing with strange situations and don't be an A--hole."

Space Monkey24 Feb 2013 6:44 p.m. PST

Just another rule he failed to playtest…

Shardik24 Feb 2013 11:54 p.m. PST

I had a similar experience with a fantasy rule set. A lot of the "rules" were missing or ambiguous. I asked a lot of questions on the yahoo group, got a few responses from the author which weren't in the rules or contradicted them. When I suggested an errata, no response. When I did up my own draft errata, the response was "no one agrees with your errata". So I then asked a series of questions which if answered would either prove that I missed something, or prove that the book needed clarification. Got no response at all.

Chef Lackey Rich Fezian25 Feb 2013 5:23 a.m. PST

Ah, this is the same guy that's been grinding out all that "Ghost War" stuff for the GZG rules sets. Wasn't very impressed with the couple of those I wasted a dollar on, and I certainly won't be buying more. I'd say your assessment is correct – he needs to learn to edit his material for errors and mising details, and he needs to brush up on his rules knowledge before trying to write supplemental material for someone else's games. His pdfs are cheap, but they aren't even worth what you pay for them – more like being charged for a casual blog post than getting a finished product.

Caesar25 Feb 2013 7:31 a.m. PST

Just another rule he failed to playtest…

LOL.

Lardie the Great25 Feb 2013 10:10 a.m. PST

I just got the Regiment sets as I've got Stargrunt 2, Dirtside and the Hammers Slammers rules, so thought these would be complimentary, but they just seem to be a rehash and don't really add anything new.

Wellspring25 Feb 2013 1:08 p.m. PST

Bill, it sounds like you gave this guy far more of a chance that he deserves.

There IS plenty of room for a DS-compatible scenario or expansion. But I don't think we'll be seeing it from this guy. His ungentlemanly behavior only confirms it.

Thanks for warning us off! I'd rather spend my money on legit products.

(BTW he posted a "writer's response where he gives you 1/5 stars, questioning whether you played his rules or even Dirtside II. Pro tip for writers: when you write a WALL OF TEXT to reply to a critic, all you're doing is providing us with free copy, which in this case does more to confirm Bill's problems with him than anything Bill wrote. Reading the reply, I think Bill's being too nice.)

Thylacine DF25 Feb 2013 3:31 p.m. PST

You read the post? Try as I might I couldn't, my brain jumped ahead to a similar conclusion.

Cheers

Derek

Who asked this joker26 Feb 2013 1:47 p.m. PST

I had a glance through "Get Some: Fantasy Warfare." While I didn't think the game was so bad from what I saw, I thought the title was grating.

I think the author needs to thicken his skin and listen to his critiques.

John

soledad27 Feb 2013 7:41 a.m. PST

From what I can see it costs 2 USD. You get what you pay for and I would not expect much for 2 USD. If the price was 20 USD I would be upset but paying 2 USD and recieving a "bad" product, I would not care. But I would never buy from him again.

Space Monkey27 Feb 2013 6:19 p.m. PST

It's nice that $2 USD isn't much for you… but it might be for someone else, or someone who might buy up a bunch of these at once… or some kid who wanders into them unsuspecting (in the unlikely chance a kid might play Dirtside).
Either way it's good when there is an honest review of a product to warn potential buyers.

soledad28 Feb 2013 2:47 a.m. PST

Of course the review should be honest. The product should be fairly reviewed with its pros and cons stated. But, like I wrote, for two dollars I do not expect much. Where I live a straight cup of coffee costs about 4-5 USD so 2 USD for a bunch of scenarios isnīt much, even if it is badly done.

Capt Flash28 Feb 2013 8:39 a.m. PST

2USD for a garbage product is better spent buying two cups of Green Mountain coffee at McDonald's. I saw the adverts for Get Some but was put off by all of the sci-fi supplements listed as well.
I guess my Spider Sense got it right. Thanks, Bill!

SgtPrylo02 May 2013 7:26 a.m. PST

I was interested in The Regiment for D2, and man am I glad I saw this first. $2 USD or $20 USD, there is no place for shoddy material and a bad attitude. The proper way to handle it, if you are TRULY interested in good marketing of your product, is to listen to the critiques and answer the questions. For god's sake, Bill was basically giving the guy free editing by asking the questions! Seems like a good chance to fix the mistakes. Then you get good pub on TMP, and you are off and running. Not so much now…

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