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Explaining the Pause

April 21st, 2007 by Troy Goodfellow · 8 Comments · Board Games, MMO

The lack of updates in the last couple of days has been mostly because my gaming time has been consumed with two things.

First, I puttered around with the Lord of the Rings Online open beta. It’s cute, but probably not cute enough to hold me any longer than World of Warcraft did. Which means that I probably won’t subscribe unless I get a compelling professional reason to do so. It’s fun running around as a hobbit hunter with a feathered cap, sure, but a tiny piece of my nerd brain resists the idea of a 300 hit point halfling regularly schooling two or three full-sized men at the same time, not to mention all the spiders and wolves I killed. The hobbits of Tolkien’s books are not adventurous, in any case, and seeing a few dozen of them running and jumping around me is a little silly.

Yeah, I know. Never let literature get in the way of gaming. After all, I have no problems with a Middle Earth RTS. But “stumbling” upon a Nazgul Rider on the road to some Shire village is just too much of a reminder that the literature is happening in this very same world. On that note, it’s one thing to have a persistent world where the player can’t make radical changes to the environment, but the constant references to Bagginses and Dark Lords and the like keep reminding me that Carbo of the Harfoots is a side character in a book I’ve read that will never be finished in this world. In LotRO, Frodo can’t get to Mount Doom – it would spoil the game for everyone.

Second, for much of the week I have also been playing Paths of Glory, the GMT board game oft mentioned in the comments of my recent post on World War I and gaming. Seizing the initiative, Bruce Geryk and I loaded up the cyberboard version of the game and, using the automated card tracking system through Warhorse Sims, I quickly learned the basics and remembered why I like GMT games so much.

We didn’t really “finish” a game. The teaching game led to my Russian army getting obliterated, so Bruce, always a good sport, called a mulligan and we began a real game. It ended in the second month when my opponent carelessly moved two strong German armies too far into Russia, and I cut off their supply in the final round. I had a clear march to Berlin at this point, and with the West still mostly intact, we agreed to end the game. I think we both have a lot to learn, in any case, as we kept forgetting to do things like Mandated Offensive rolls. Thank God for both Skype and searchable PDF rulebooks.

Next up is For the People, though if I can figure out why Ageod’s American Civil War isn’t installing properly, I might get busy fighting on another front.


8 Comments so far ↓

  • Luke

    Actually, Frodo eventually will reach Mount Doom. Turbine is planning to gradually progress the story for the next 2-3 years until the game reaches that point.

  • Troy

    Thanks for the clarification.

  • Alan

    Actually, 300-hit-point warrior-hobbits expose one of the oddities of MMOs and the reason why I still don’t care to play them; everyone wants to be the hero. At the very least, everyone wants to win. This has weird implications for persistence, which is to say there isn’t any.

  • GyRo567

    That’s one of the very reasons I hate the idea of MMOs at their core. They really need to just be singleplayer games in most cases.

    Why would I want to be in an escapist realm if I’m tormented by the same jerks who edge me out in the real world too? (not that I’m actually beaten by them in real life, but I’m often beaten by them in virtual worlds)

  • Natus

    Isn’t that funny? A friend is showing me PoG via VASSAL. and I think I’ve just blown the whole Russian front. The whole supply/fort rules recommend continuous re-reading. But so far, it’s a great game, and my favorite of the ones I’m playing on VASSAL.

  • Brinstar

    I played some LOTRO for a bit as well, but it’s not compelling enough to keep me playing. I played WoW avidly for all of four or five months. The mechanics in LOTRO are very similar to WoW, and because WoW has a similar game design as other MMORPGs, I would guess that LOTRO bears the same similarities. LOTRO is not nearly as grind intensive as WoW, from what I can tell after 10 levels, and the story and graphics are a whole lot better (IMO). It’s a nice alternative to other MMOGs out there, but it’s something that I’ll skip.

  • roberton

    Two comments…

    Regading the “lack of updates”: I don’t think you need to apologise for not posting anything for a few days!

    As for Paths of Glory, are you going to play any more of this? The posts here have been interesting and made me go and read up on the game. If you do play a third game with Bruce I think you could justify an after action report as a post…

    And do we now have an answer to question of whether WW1 can be used to make a good game?

  • Troy

    I like to go no more than a single weekday without a post, but yeah, I probably do apologize too much. ;)

    I’m certainly up for more Paths of Glory. It is a very good game, but I never argued that WWI couldn’t make a good game, only that modelling the Western Front is very problematic. There are a few strategic games out there. GMT makes very good games. I really should try their Rise of Rome game.

    As for an AAR post, that’s an interesting idea. I tend to avoid writing AARs because I think they are usually more interesting to the person writing them than the reader. Thankfully, the Warhorse Sim card management system can used to good effect for keeping everything straight.

    It would be right to do only one side of the AAR, though, and Bruce is much to busy to do that. We usually play through Skype so we can talk through what we are playing, so I’d have to resist writing down what we are talking about and focus on the game.

    Still, I’ll consider it for future games.