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How steep is the learning curve in COTA?

 
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How steep is the learning curve in COTA? - 2/16/2007 4:12:44 PM   
BROJD

 

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I'm interested in buying this game but am concerned that the learning curve is too steep [sic] for me to enjoy it. When I was younger, I had plenty of time to devote to learning and mastering complex games and enjoyed it. Now, between my kid, one on the way, full-time work, and other commitments, I'm lucky to squeeze in an hour or two of play one or two nights a week. I'd love to buy COTA, but I read that it had extensive documentation and that makes me a bit leery.

(I bought Supreme Ruler: 2010 for Christmas. It's a well-done game, but I can't find the time to delve into it and truly understand the complexity of it.)
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RE: How steep is the learning curve in COTA? - 2/16/2007 5:17:56 PM   
sterckxe


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quote:

ORIGINAL: BROJD
I'm interested in buying this game but am concerned that the learning curve is too steep [sic] for me to enjoy it.


Ok, you look like a prime candidate to watch the 5-minute intro video - found over here :

http://cota.matrixgames.com/downloads/

What can say ? COTA is pretty easy to get started in. I know because I've literally given dozens of 5-minute instructions demo-ing the game at a number of wargame conventions.

Just using the move, attack and defend orders and using common (military) sense will get you up and running in no time. It's a game you grow into. At first you don't need to bother with the finer parts, just give orders to your battalion HQ's and they'll execute them well enough, after a while you'll start to micro-manage your arty or think you've found a better spot for that AT company but as a game COTA keeps you focused on the operational strategy, not the drudgery of having to move and order each unit every turn.

The thing is : in Cota you won't want or need to do that most of the time. Let me give you an example : say you want a battalion (a battalion HQ, it's companies, some supporting mortar, heavy machine gun and AT units) to defend a town.

Cota allows newbies to do this : <click on Btl HQ unit> <click on "Defend"> <click on the town> done. If that was a sound move from a military operational point of view (the battalion is not out on a limb, nearly encircled etc. ) that was a good move to make and you can easily win a game like that.

But when you're a bit more used to this whole "worry about the strategy, not about implementation" way of wargaming you'll start to notice that the default footprint (frontage / depth) that battalion has can maybe be enhanced somewhat - and Cota lets you do that easily. The next step is that you notice that the battalion has a rather feeble AT company and that for best effect you could maybe place it somewhat to the right/left of the main highway leading into town because you know the enemy is usually scouting with light armoured cars and getting flank shots would be nice, etc.

The point I wanted to make is that Cota lets you micro-manage *everything* if you wanted to, but that most gamers don't bother because in most instances the AI commander does a credible job himself so you only intervene at the critical points and if you just need to garrison a flank that is not threatened even the most experienced players will just <click unit> <click defend order> <click location> and go on to focus where his attention to details matters : at the focal point of the attack.

Now, if the above sounds suspiciously like the job description of the divisional or corps commander that's because Cota is simply the best simulation of commanding at that level available on today's market.

[old hands might have noticed this is sort of a copy&paste job from other posts I made - believe me, I know all there is to know about Real Life (tm) pressure so I tend to take shortcuts ]

Greetz,

Eddy Sterckx

(in reply to BROJD)
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RE: How steep is the learning curve in COTA? - 2/16/2007 7:52:10 PM   
BROJD

 

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Thanks for the good info.  The video was very helpful too.  I would have probably gotten this game earlier if there was a demo, but the video is helpful...

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RE: How steep is the learning curve in COTA? - 2/16/2007 10:03:02 PM   
z1812


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Hi BROJD,

COTA comes with clear and enjoyable tutorials. Also people on the board are very helpful. There is a Demo of the very first game in this series that was called Red Devils Over Arnhem. Here is the link.

http://downloads.gamezone.com/demos/d3158.htm

Remember that this demo was the first incarnation. The game engine has matured since then. However it will give you a feel for the game before you spend your hard earned dollars. For what it is worth I highly reccommend COTA.

regards John

(in reply to BROJD)
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RE: How steep is the learning curve in COTA? - 2/16/2007 10:24:57 PM   
simovitch


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Ever since Highway to the Reich I have found it hard to go back to any other wargames - I got spoiled with how easy-going the game is once you get the campaign rolling.

Just don't let yourself get overwhelmed with what may look like alot of units. Most players choose to command forces at battalion level which cuts the number of units to consider by a factor of 5 or 6.

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simovitch


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RE: How steep is the learning curve in COTA? - 2/17/2007 11:15:56 PM   
MarkShot


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Some good responses here. Two other important questions which you should ask yourself is:

(1) Having invested time to learn the game, how rewarding is it to play?

(2) Having invested time to learn the game, how much replay value is there?

Because let's face it, why learn something that in the end you will either exhaust or dump in two months, or is simply boring.

I think HTTR/COTA do very well with regards to the above questions. I've been a beta tester (full life cycle) of both those games, and I personally have yet to exhaust the replay/reward potential which these games offer.

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Panther Games (RDOA/HTTR/COTA/BFTB) Beta Tester

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RE: How steep is the learning curve in COTA? - 2/18/2007 12:23:42 AM   
Arjuna


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Here's a quote from rasnell, who was "gunshy" over what he perceived was an intimidating complex game.

quote:

Glad I listened to you guys. Received HTTR yesterday in the mail and I've been playing like crazy the last two nights. Just as you said, the learning curve is pretty modest and not nearly as intimidating as I thought. The key is that the AI follows your general plans at macro-management level very impressively.

There's a lot to learn, but it's easier than most war games that I've tackled. The challenge is quite tough and it's interesting, in replaying the tutorials a couple of times, how varied the AI reaction is to different game plans. I cannot wait to get into the more detailed battles, especially the really long historic campaigns where I know I'm going to get thumped.

I even stopped at the library to get "A Bridge Too Far," just so I can engross myself in the history and the game play.


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Dave "Arjuna" O'Connor
www.panthergames.com

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RE: How steep is the learning curve in COTA? - 2/18/2007 7:46:47 PM   
TPM

 

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Hey guys...contemplating getting this game myself. I'm downloading the demo for "Devils Over Arnhem"; would this give me a pretty good idea of the game? I'm intrigued by the idea of giving commands to more than one unit at a time...can't seem to find a game that does that! Thanks.

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RE: How steep is the learning curve in COTA? - 2/18/2007 8:21:24 PM   
MarkShot


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It will give you a sense of the thing, but keep in mind that five more years went into development on that engine to produce COTA.

So, it is like asking will playing CIV 1 DOS give me a sense of the series? Yes, it will, but the series has gone way beyond that. Although I would say that my example here is somewhat exagerated, but you get the point.

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RE: How steep is the learning curve in COTA? - 11/15/2007 8:37:15 PM   
Franklin Nimitz

 

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Hi All,
I wandered over from the WITP forum, where I've lurked for a while as well.  Just bought CotA yesterday, and wanted to say WELL DONE!  I've been a wargamer since the Avalon Hill days, and am glad that a 'serious' wargame developer has finally shed the 'turns' and 'hexes' paper-based conventions.  I've suffered through a large number of RTS pubs, looking for a good operational presentation of WW2 ops, and have finally found it. I've gone through two scenarios already, and am about to start #3.  I didn't find the learning curve to be very steep at all.  What could be interesting and instructive would be an option to have the computer take both sides and let the (novice) player watch, though like Eddy said, just jumping in and playing is the best approach, and let the AI work for you.

Obviously, this engine has the flexibility to represent most any engagement from the Industrial age to recent times. I hope for success and many expansions from Panther in the years to come.  I'm already drooling for BftB.

(in reply to MarkShot)
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RE: How steep is the learning curve in COTA? - 11/15/2007 9:10:08 PM   
MarkShot


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Franklin,

Glad you are enjoying the game!

Well, for one or two simple objectives you could really just give two orders and let the your side's AI do the rest if you want to just watch.

We do, in fact, in the beta toolset have the capability for the AI to play itself. However, I do not think this would provide a good learning tool:

(1) You are not going to see the plan put together through the UI, since the AI doesn't need to use the UI.

(2) The AI will not be providing with why allocated a given site force to attack or hold a specific terrain feature. In anything, you now have a bigger learning curve to draw inferences from the AI's behavior.

(3) Truly, if you want an extensive discussion of techniques and plan development, you should see the HTTR and COTA Mini-Guides which I did. They cover all of that without any need for inference as I fully explain why everything is done and how it is done. Finally, there is also the HTTR Strategy Guide still available for purchase. A half of it addresses strategy. Almost forgot, you might check the PWC subforum and the AAR subforum; there were also some AARs hosted over at the Wargamer's Mini-Site.

Enjoy.

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Panther Games (RDOA/HTTR/COTA/BFTB) Beta Tester

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RE: How steep is the learning curve in COTA? - 11/15/2007 9:43:42 PM   
HansBolter


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I have to agree.

Markshot's mini-guides were what got me truly hooked on this game engine.

I've since become one of the most enthusiastic and outspoken beta testers around.

Just wait until Battles from the Bulge hits the market....the scenarios and incremental improvements to the engine are absolutely awesome.

I also have to agree with Simovitch. I too am on old grognard from the AH boardgame days and now very, very rarely find myself devoting any time to my full collection of Matrix's Decisive Battles games (hex-turn based).

Once you get a taste of what I refer to as this "command simulator" ordinary wargames begin to pale by comparison.

Hans

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RE: How steep is the learning curve in COTA? - 11/15/2007 10:34:44 PM   
MarkShot


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Thanks, Merrill. A very fine compliment, indeed! :)

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Post #: 13
RE: How steep is the learning curve in COTA? - 11/15/2007 11:11:14 PM   
Franklin Nimitz

 

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I'll check them out. I was really suggesting the AI-v-AI for other's sake. I really didn't think the game engine is really hard to figure out.


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