Sunday, December 14, 2008

Enough Whining!

No, not me. At least in a global sense. 

I got my preorder copy of GMT's new solitaire game Fields of Fire. The game looks to be very interesting, focusing on C3i at the squad/team level in three different combat eras (WW2, Korea, and Vietnam). Unfortunately, the rulebook is an unholy mess, and I am far from the only person complaining (although there are always a few who think a game can do no wrong). 

I complained on the 'Geek after a five hour exercise in frustration - the "manual" leaves considerable amounts of detail undiscussed (like how to fill out a Mission Log), claims types of assets are treated in specific fashion then contradicts those rules later on, all sorts of things. After five hours and *finally* getting to the point where I actually had combat (and needing to read six different sections to understand what amounted to a couple of card draws), I gave up and posted a bit of a flame on the 'Geek. 

After considerable discussion whether or not my arguments were valid, I decided that perhaps the best choice was not to complain but to do something about it. GMT is putting up an example of play online, but it's not up yet and in any event it doesn't help that there are simply rules that are far too vague for practical use. Plus, some of you know how I feel about the rule being in an example rather than in an actual, you know, rule. 

So what I'm doing is playing a game and detailing how I do things (based on the sequence of play), and bolding the parts that I feel like I'm forced to guess what to do. The idea is that others will read and learn or correct my misconceptions. I can't imagine no one has tried to do this on the 'Geek before, but it certainly seems warranted in this particular case. The link to the thread is here, and if you're interested in the game I suggest you play along with me over the next week or so as I try to ferret out just how this game is played. Unfortunately, I won't be covering some of the more convoluted topics (LZs, vehicles, etc), but it should be enough to get people started and point out where the rules fall desperately flat. 

How flat? There are exactly two examples in the entire book, inline or graphic. Two. Perhaps the biggest demonstration of a failure by a developer I've ever seen. I've got Don Greenwood rules that were more transparent. However, I think there's a really elegant game here, if very detailed, and I'd not only like to be able to play it, but would like others to do so as well. Follow along, and enough whining!

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