Tuesday, July 3, 2012

My Therapist said... It is ok to criticize Battlefront

For those of you who don't hang out on the FoW forum or the WWPD Forum, here is a post I made earlier:

This has been bugging me a bit, so I thought I would just come out with it and release my deep breath when done. I am not trying to be flippant either - I have struggled with this one. So I have finally gotten to a spot where I can say:

It is ok to criticize Battlefront.

Let that sink in for a minute. I am big with the "everyone has a vote" and "my beliefs do not require you to believe" view of the world.

But like my favorite sports teams, I can be a fan and still lament poor trades, poor play and still live and die by the results! And I will still wear the jersey / kit and I will still celebrate the big win over the biggest rival.

And this leads me to my riff on BF:

I love you guys! I like the models, the rules, the books - heck everything! I was giddy when I received my V3 rulebook, I was excited the first time Phil chimed in on one of my forum posts and I was really excited when I played my first tournament. But like my sports team above, I can chime in with what I see are issues / problems with the books, rules, business model, etc. It doesn't make me right and this is not about being right. It is just about making a better game - but still being polite about it.

• There are problems with EW. I believe those problems to be based on points. I just don't understand from a game mechanic that an MG gun / infantry team can cost about the same as a vehicle with a MG. Same price, but I get armor and a 12" to 16" inch move? Really? Others like to point to the BAR issue as a problem with EW, but hey - a mistake was made and fixed. Did they go too far? Maybe. And yes, I have 20+ BAR vehicles on my table to be painted that I just can't get motivated to finish.

• The plastic Sherman from Actung! is bad. Really bad. Not sure that the fix is here, but there are other options for the beginner that will take away from BF. I hope they get this right...

• I don't like the point differences between Turning Tide, V3 Forces, BGG and the quick look at DC that I got last Friday at my FLGS. Having experienced other game systems and their model of "the newest list is always the strongest" (some call it Codex Creep) I have to say that I can understand people having this view with respect to BF. I will admit to wanting to give BF the benefit of the doubt here, but right now things are just a bit off. I was really angry with the point cost of a Sherman vs. Panzer IV in V3 Forces, then only to see the cost of a base Sherman go down in BGG. And there was just a handful of weeks between the two releases!

• Please, ambushing PSV is plain dumb. I have read all the posts and threads on this subject, but come on! Recon cruises down a road only to have wire pop up behind them on the same road. No amount of "historical info" will change my mind. This is a game mechanic that is simply wrong.

• LW war is headed towards EW right now. The split into EW / MW / LW is arbitrary from BF. There is no vodoo here or special reasons. It just helps the game mechanic. But as we progress later into '44 and '45, the points will get completely out of whack. If they don't, then it just means that the list that is fielded from the latest point in the war will be the strongest.

• It is a game, not a recreation of history. Some decisions will need to be made based on the game over history. See PSV ambush above as an example. So vehicles found themselves surprised in a mine field. So what? Saying that an ambushed PSV recreates this is dumb. A minefield didn't always sprout up in the perfect spot everytime. Arguing over stats and historical accuracy is also interesting. I am sure that somewhere in history, a 37mm gun blew a track off of a Tiger or Panther and immobilized it. Does that mean that a 37mm gun in LW should have the ability to bail a tank? Nope. Poor game mechanic if it did. So this is a game that represents history or potential history. Sometimes it seems like we all get a bit caught up in the history argument and forget that we play with toy soldiers.

• Finally, this is a business for BF. Making a game that is fun is good business. Promoting the hobby and the game itself is good business. Not alienating the FLGS is good business. Creating a fair game to play is good business. What is not good business is forgetting that the hobby is expensive. On this point I am candid - I can afford all the toy soldiers and books that I want. I am lucky and blessed. But I never assume everyone else is in the same boat. I see young players who save money and buy 1 Panther at a time. I see young professionals that have taken 6 months to purchase two platoons due to life issues, financial constraints and time. I am concerned about "compilations" and what it means to this game and BF. It is not good business to render LW Eastern Front books "useless in tournaments" a mere 12 months after publication. It is not good business to make my list from D-Day simply not competitive with later book releases. What do you say to the poor person that saved and invested time into the hobby, just to make the list they loved not a viable list for a tournament? I know tournaments shouldn't rule the game - really I do! But do consider this for a moment – on average, tournament players will spend more money in the hobby than non-tournament players. Can’t we have a game that works for both? My fun in tournaments is meeting new people and having fun. But if I travel to Historicon to play in the tournament, I would like to think that my list has a fair chance. And right now my CV list for US Armor in Turning Tide is nowhere near as good as BGG. Disagree? Ok, then why in a game that is points based can my 5 CV Shermans from Turning Tide cost me 450 points and in BGG they cost me 415? Same era here. Let's make it worse, take my BGG Shermans and give them an additional 2" move. Now my 5 CV BGG Shermans cost 440, still cheaper than Turning Tide and they move further! Yes, the equipment got better later in the war. But in the game mechanic, we are in the same era and we are a points based game. The same vehicle with better stats should not be cheaper in the same era!

So forgive me, but like my beloved Chicago Cubs, I can root for them and still complain and criticize their horrid pitching and hitting. And I can complain about Michigan State and Northwestern (alma maters) when they lose a game. But I still bleed for those teams and I want to see them win.

I want BF to succeed just like I want my team to win. But I just see some things that I would love to see improved. And if I offended anyone, it was by no means intentional.

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